The Psychology of Communication

Dr. Relly Nadler:
 Today we are going to bring Dr. Woody to you. Dr. Woody is short for Michael Woodward. He is the author of the book, The You Plan, which focuses on the psychology of communication, leadership, and career reengagement. Dr. Woody’s approach is to develop your self-awareness and human interaction skills to create a positive culture and open communication.

He is a certified professional coach, trained in the field of organizational psychology. As a coach and a consultant, Dr. Woody works with private and corporate clients on career development and building management and leadership capacity.

He may have seen him or read about him in print; magazines and newspapers. Dr. Woody has written a regular column for Go Jobbing Magazine on issues around hiring and coaching. He has also been quoted in the Miami Herald, Miami Today, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel as an expert in career reengagement.

Today we are going to have some opportunities to talk to Dr. Woody about a variety of things. Many folks may still be looking for work and a way to best promote themselves in the job world.

He has also published an award-winning research on teamwork. That book is entitled Cooperation and Competition: The Effects of Team Entrainment and Reward Structure.

His website, which has a lot of interesting information, is

Welcome, Dr. Woody!

Dr. Woody: Sure, well it’s great to be here with both you and Cathy. I appreciate the opportunity to come on and chat with you about a lot of these issues, particularly about personal planning. I’m excited to be her.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We have some questions lined up for you. I’d just like to say a little bit more about Dr. Woody. He is the Founder and President of the Miami based consulting firm, Human Capital Integrated. The firm focuses on management and leadership development. In conjunction with founding and running HCI, Dr. Woody is also the founder of It’s a dynamic media site that you should check out, dedicated to work/life issues, career, and entrepreneurialism, in the new economy.

Dr. Woody also served on the academic advisory board for the Florida National University Center for Leadership. Prior to founding his consultancy, Dr. Woody served as a manager and human resource consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and as a project manager for IBM Business Consulting Services.

He really brings on-the-line experience being from big consultancies. He received his BA in Psychology from the University of Miami. He has his master’s in industrial organizational psychology from Springfield College and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Florida International University.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It’s really a pleasure to have you on the show! We’ll stick to the questions Dr. Woody, but if there are some things that you want to share with that we don’t cover, please feel free to let us know.

Dr. Woody: As long as we are having fun, that’s what is important.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Exactly, that is how I feel too. Before we get into the meat of what you do, because I’m actually on your website and just downloaded the You Plan Workbook, which I want to talk with you about.

Tell us about your background and who have been some of the big influences in your life that have you thinking about what we are going to talk about today?

Dr. Woody: Sure. You know Cathy, I think throughout my career I have been influenced at different points by different people. I don’t know if there is one grad influencer when I look back on that. As you guys mentioned, you kind of covered all of the interesting stuff. My background is as an organizational psychologist and I worked in the corporate world at PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM, namely in inner management and executive development practices and working with government clients.

I’m originally from Washington, D.C. I live in sunny, beautiful, Miami now. Calling in from down here in the South. I do also write a regular column for Fox Business for the website, called the Career Hot Seat, where I deal with a lot of career issues.

Answering your question about influences, probably my grandfather if I had one sort of over-arching influencer because he was very much of an entrepreneur and a guy who kind of lived the American dream.

As you mentioned at the outset, one of the things that I really preach to folks, especially given the current state of the economy and where we are now, is the notion of career entrepreneurialism. That is viewing your life and your career from an entrepreneurial perspective and really taking charge and doing things the way you need to do it. Kind of owning your life. I’m really big into kind of pushing that and the book kind of focuses on how to help you think that way. That influence kind of comes from him.

I would say when it comes to influences for the book and for me in practice, certainly mentors I have had throughout the past. One would be a guy called Paul Isley who was a Ph.D. Psychologist who I worked with when I was at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He really taught me a lot.

As I said, we all find different mentors at different times in our lives and it makes sense.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I would love to talk to you about the types of clients that you are working with now and what gave you this incentive, this motivation to write the book The You Plan?

Dr. Woody: Sure. You know Cathy, it’s an interesting story. After leaving IBM back in 2003, I decided to go back to do my Ph.D. down here in Miami at FIY, and then most of the way through all the coursework, I started my own firm down here back in 2005. Most of my focus was on management executive development.

Typically, I worked with corporate and usually midsized companies on dealing with that transition from player to coach. It’s learning how to work through people as opposed to doing it yourself and generating a common philosophy of management in an organization and creating programs where we could train future leaders on how to best really, enhance the business of the organization. Like you guys talk about, getting in that top 10%.

What was interesting for me is being well-connected down here in the business community in Miami and South Florida, around 2008 a lot of people started asking me, they said, things are rough here. And down here, certainly, unemployment is pretty challenging. In Dade County, we are at about 13%, and I think it’s about 12% in Florida. So, we got hit pretty hard.

What I found is that I was being approached by a lot of folks in the business community, especially those working with younger professionals and those working with professionals in transition, and they said, we need to deliver a message that is different because we are finding the pool of unemployed folks, especially at the professional levels and even at executive levels, is growing and they are not sure what to do. The old model or the book of how to rewrite your resume, or how to network, or surf the job fair, or work on job boards and understand the postings and recruitment firms. All that stuff was very task level. It just wasn’t relevant anymore when you have, I think, a recession the magnitude of what we are finding.

What happened was, they said you coach managers and executives, you have a way of talking to people and helping them through that self-discovery process, strategize and reset. What kind of message would you want to deliver to these folks that would help them better understand what to do and how to deal with this?

I said sure, being the diligent consultant, I sat down, and I reviewed a lot of the different books and I found that they were very task level focused. My concern with that was in a time when it’s no longer about chasing opportunities, it’s about creating opportunities, especially in this environment. Too many career coaching communities and those types of books were really more focused on the tasks and things to do, telling people to do XYZ and it will get you this outcome. I felt like I was putting the cart before the horse.

Being the preachy, psychologist guy, which I can do that with both of you, and I said we need to step back and start thinking about how to be more introspective and really create a plan. That was my frustration; too many people were focused on the doing. As you both know, whether you are leaving the bubble of college campus life, or you are transitioning out from a job or industry that you have been in for 20-some years, you lose your daily routine, your ritual, your socialization, your structure that defines you, your purpose really, and that is psychologically paralyzing.

What do you do when you go through that paralysis or your defining structure is gone? You sit down, and you start doing things, tasks, stuff, because it makes you feel better. The problem is, it doesn’t get you anywhere.

That was originally the inspiration. I started doing a lot of pro bono work and workshops, and free speaking, whether it was colleges or universities or some of our get-back-to-work agencies that are government funded down here, I started getting people really responding well. I said you know what, I think I need to put this into a book.

Even though I promised myself no more writing for a while after I finished my doctorate, I jumped right into it and sat down and decided to put together something nice and succinct that I felt would walk people through a series of questions to ask themselves and have them create the answers and try and develop some kind of plan. That is sort of the long/short version of how The You Plan came about.

Dr. Relly Nadler: You know, I have the book and it is really helpful. There are a lot of worksheets and we’ll walk through some if it. I hear you talk about Woody, it’s the difference between the doing and the being and sometimes we like to talk about the play on words. Many of us are human “doings” versus human “beings.” I think what we’ll get into is finding out who you are as a life plan really is the human being part. Doing the being before the doing. I’m curious because I know between you, me, and Cathy, we’ve talked with thousands of people and often you find out the job that they are in, they have kind of stumbled into, maybe not as the plan. Why do you think people don’t really go ahead and do a life plan? We know we probably should, but what are some of the reasons you think people don’t do that?

Dr. Woody: Here’s what I have found because I think you are very right when it comes to the stumbling. A lot of times in life what happens is that we allow opportunities that present themselves to us to guide us as opposed to deciding on creating the opportunities we want.

Part of that, I think, is a function of American culture, especially American business culture which is getting in the car, put your foot to the floor, and go as fast as you can. I don’t care where I’m going as long as I’m going faster than the person next to me. I have found this time and time again. People are always so concerned with getting out there and just moving quickly, so quickly that they are not even sure where the end destination is, but as long as they feel like they are in motion, and in motion fast, they feel that they are accomplishing something. I think it’s a huge mistake.

It worries me because, you know, I’ve been caught up in that and you guys see that certainly with your clients. Cathy, certainly at Accenture you saw it, being in a huge company like that where people just get so wrapped up in like you said, the doing and being a human “doing” instead of a human “being.” It feels, there is some psychological gratification immediately to doing. It’s hard when at the end of the day you look back and you are like, oh my god, I’ve been doing for how many years now and I’m still doing but I’m not sure where I’m going or how I’m actually being. If that makes any sense.

Listen to the whole interview above.


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