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From Iraq to Iowa: Adapting Interrogation Techniques into Empathy-Based Listening

Eric Maddox in DSM USA

November 1, 2019

Athene has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming Multicultural Reception, co-hosted with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Midwest Health Care Network and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. We’re excited to welcome guests to our beautiful campus and to put on an event for central Iowans interested in learning and sharing more about ways to advance diversity and inclusion goals and initiatives.

Finding the Right Impact

We pride ourselves on unconventional thinking, so when we agreed to host the Fall reception last Spring, we challenged ourselves to come up with something that would be impactful and aligned with the goals of the Partnership’s Inclusion Council.

As we brainstormed, I realized that I had heard an incredible speaker earlier in the year and that his message about empathy-based listening could be a unique twist on the format of the event. A few calls to arrange the dates and times, and he was booked.

That speaker is Eric Maddox, and I am thrilled we are bringing him back to Greater Des Moines (DSM) for this event. Let me give you a little bit of background on Eric. In short, he’s a U.S. Army Veteran and while deployed to Iraq, conducted more than 300 interrogations during his tour, which directly led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Pretty cool story, right? But that’s not what was so impactful for me.

What I find incredible is that he then adapted his expertise in listening and asking questions to home in on the most effective ways to work with people, to build trust and maximize influence. He talked about asking the right interview questions, spotting behavioral clues and facilitating conversations that produce results.

Who doesn’t want to have more productive conversations and build more trust among colleagues? As an HR professional, I find this especially engaging.

And then I considered the broader appeal of this message and these techniques with respect to diversity and inclusion initiatives around the #DSMUSA community, because that’s what we’re trying to do - build trust.

Going Beyond the Message

The premise is that you can’t truly connect with or understand someone, if you don’t know their needs. To identify their needs, you need to sit in their position and you must ask questions that let them know you are curious, that you’re setting aside bias or agenda or preconceived notion, just to listen. Eric’s methodology has proven successful in various situations in both professional and personal settings, and I can tell you from experience – it works.

Eric Maddox is a life changing presentation. If you’ve already signed up for the reception, please be sure to come! We’re looking forward to hosting you at Athene.

Through the Global DSM international talent strategy, The Partnership works to establish Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global community attracting and retaining foreign-born persons to the region. Check out more diversity and inclusion events coming to DSM.

Kristi Kaye Burma

Kristi Burma is executive vice president of human resources at Athene and a member of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council. She is passionate about employee engagement, giving back to the Des Moines community, and spending time outdoors, especially if it involves time with her family.