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EP30 - From Insults to Endearment: A British Take on Intimacy w/Al Elliott

Al Elliott, on the unimaginable intimacy of bearing witness to another person’s wish to die:  "As a Samaritan, you can say, so what do you think death is going to be like? And ask the question genuinely interested in the reply."

“That is probably the most intimate conversation I've ever had with a stranger and possibly ever will.”

Al Elliott, co-host of the podcast Truth, Lies and Workplace Culture, the UK’s number one podcast about workplace culture, shares an absolutely unforgettable story about his time spent as a Samaritan, wherein he spoke to people who were considering-or even in the midst of–taking their own lives.

His job was not to save people or interfere unsolicitedly but to ask the right questions and hold space for the person on the other end of the line. This had a profound impact on the way he communicates with guests on his own show, including Jim, whose guest appearance led to an eye-opening dialogue on the unique way that men communicate and share intimacy.

Getting even more specific, Al, a Brit, describes the unique way that men in the UK, particularly the north, show each other love. It’s usually wrapped in humor if not a scathing insult. As it is with most men, there is a soft center underneath what he calls “the crust of masculinity.”

Al has also learned a lot about communicating from his wife, business partner and podcast co-host Leeanne, a fully-qualified business psychologist. On today’s podcast, he offers advice on working with your spouse, and the unique way that introverts process information.


“My biggest bugbear is when someone asks a question and then says, ‘...because when I was in the army…’ and you think, ‘You've made the entire question about you.’ So now you're in competition. The person who's answering has to answer in a way to make themselves look equally or better than you in order just to answer the question fully. Stop any of that. Never say ‘because’ if you're asking a question, ever.” (11:13 | Al)
"No matter how close you are to females in your life, they probably don't know the types of conversation that men have when they are really open and raw and honest. They don't tend to understand–and we aren't privy to the conversations they have with their female friends that are very raw and honest." (15:26 | Al)
"I think the secret between the two of us is that Leanne's taught me the way that I react and the way that I think. And then she's explained to me the way that she acts and thinks." (18:36 | Al)
"But then there's also the fact that we tend to hide intimacy around insults and you tend to find that the closer the friend is, the more horrific this is, particularly with males, the more horrific the insults will be." (28:45 | Al)
“Some of the most intimate conversations that I’ve had with people have been with strangers.” (36:27 | Al)

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The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.


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