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Peter Thiel Handles Interviewer Trying to Impose a Frame on a Question

Interviewer: Can a nice, honest guy make a big?
I guess the subtext of this question is everybody you know that's been successful in the valley kind of an asshole.
Or are there nice people who like build fantastically, successful big companies.
And wow that person I'd like to invite them to picnic on Sunday.

Peter Thiel: I don't really know how to answer that question.
(He highlights the provocative nature of the question with humour and buys time)

Audience: (laughs) (I suppose that it's generally good when the audience follows your lead)

Interviewer: But you gave me a look when I said "Is everybody an asshole?". (Trying to lead Thiel to his frame)

Peter ThielNo, if you say something like "honestly", "frankly", I always think these are words that signify the opposite.
When someone uses those words, it's like "listen my friend", "honestly". "My friend" is another word like that or "just kidding" always means the exact opposite where people are never kidding.

But no I think that ... (the point that he wants to make from his own frame)

I suppose this is a form of frame transformation mixed with humour.

Thiel talked about "honestly" to hint that the interviewer is not really asking if there are honest people in Silicon Valley.

The interviewer just wanted Thiel to agree that all successful entrepreneurs in the Valley are assholes.

The audience laughed with him because the host was quite obviously trying to impose a frame on him, and he played with it.

Lucio Buffalmano and Ali Scarlett have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli Scarlett

Thank you for this, Matthew, it had been a while we didn't have a good case study :).

First off, has anyone else noticed the filler words and the interviewer's pose?

It pained me to listen to Thiel, his incessant filler words distracted me from his message. Such a smart guy, if he'd only fixed that small thing, he could be 10 times more influential with his speeches.

The interviewer on the other hand, 90% of the time he was lost either in picking his receiver, or looking at his notes, losing all human connection with the interviewee.

Otherwise, your analysis seems good to me and, in terms of social effectiveness, Thiel handled it well.

Another approach could have been to let the interviewer himself start dismantling his own provocative frame.
For example:

Interviewer: Can a nice, honest guy make it big?
I guess the subtext of this question is everybody you know that's been successful in the valley kind of an asshole.
Peter Thiel: Do you think that successful people are more likely to be assholes?

If he backtracks, the frame is gone.
If he confirms, you can ask "why", see where he goes with it, and then take it from there.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 25, 2021, 6:11 pm

First off, has anyone else noticed the filler words and the interviewer's pose?

It pained me to listen to Thiel, his incessant filler words distracted me from his message. Such a smart guy, if he'd only fixed that small thing, he could be 10 times more influential with his speeches.

I see what you mean by the filler words.
He is a billionaire so he could probably have an image or public relations consultant to advise him on communication.

I thought his perspectives in avoiding herd mentality and high competition industries in starting new businesses are insightful.
Thiel founded PayPal & Palantir.
He also invested correctly in the right entrepreneurs.

I don't think it's beneficial to the world that some snake-oil salespeople have more charisma than people with experience, knowledge & skills.
It seems that those cult-like YouTubers have specifically honed their charisma and cultivate their image instead of providing real value.
And this sways the average person on YouTube in potentially time-wasting activities.

We can take away here that the more actual value you bring to the table, the higher the importance of being good at communicating that value.

The interviewer on the other hand, 90% of the time he was lost either in picking his receiver, or looking at his notes, losing all human connection with the interviewee.

The interviewer lost sight of asking good questions and getting the interviewee to feel comfortable in sharing more .

Changing Speech & Vocal Habits

I think changing speech & vocal habits is tough.
Initially, you have to pay attention to your speech & vocal patterns while making sense of and responding to the social environment.

As such, I try to change only 1 small aspect at a time.
Previously, I was focusing on stressing the right syllabus within words.
Now I am focusing on stressing the right words within a sentence.
This approach has been recommended by Elliott from the ETJ English course that I talked about in my voice journal.

Letting a Person Dismantle His Own Frame

Another approach could have been to let the interviewer himself start dismantling his own provocative frame.

I think that this is a smooth way of handling provocative questions.
One can avoid confrontation.
I guess that this is sort of like the giving rope technique.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on June 26, 2021, 9:52 am

I don't think it's beneficial to the world that some snake-oil salespeople have more charisma than people with experience, knowledge & skills.
It seems that those cult-like YouTubers have specifically honed their charisma and cultivate their image instead of providing real value.
And this sways the average person on YouTube in potentially time-wasting activities.

Yep, great point.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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