Episode #35 Jennifer Maneely: Discern Signal from Noise

Remember those old radios, where you turned the dial, navigating through the noise of static? Up and down the spectrum, turn the dial a little this way and then a little that way, until finally, we find music or a person talking. That’s when you know you found the signal. Actually, new car radios also have noise and signal, but the new technology makes it easier to quickly find the channel. 

Recently, I had a lot of noise while purchasing a new car. Well, isn’t the process usually full of noise? But this time, it wasn’t the pushy sales guy, or the endless back and forth, or the super-duper financing offer that created the noise.  

It was the chatter in my head, causing me several moments of surprising indecision.  

This week, my podcast series on the book The Elegant Pivot continues with the latest episode titled Discern Signal From Noise. Jen Maneely joins me again to have a deep conversation about the first principle in the book. In this conversation, we share many of our struggles – and victories – in learning to parse through the noise to find clarity. Principles only work if you can apply them in real life, and this episode offers many examples of how to recalibrate your internal guidance system to work for you instead of against you. 


  • Discerning signal from noise 1st of the five principles 
  • What is the monkey brain chatter vs. What is real 
  • Assuming positive intent is really easy when we know that the other person has positive intent. 
  • Conceptually, it’s easy to understand the difference. In the heat of the moment, it’s not always so clear.  
  • Negative/Positive Pole learned from Bruce Anderson. 
  • The charge of electricity between car batteries. 
  • Signal: Jen describes what it is like for her, there is a physical sensation that happens 
  • Alignment vs. Unalignment, congruent vs. Incongruent 
  • Incongruence in corporate world  
  • Owning fear can be a good thing when you are building trust and connection 
  • Incongruence in relationships can create a lot of noise 
  • FINE does not need to be in our vocabulary anymore.  
  • Fine means I don’t have any problems I want to share at the moment.  
  • The signal lets us know something is going on, noise is our interpretation of the signal that can come from our own insecurities, worries, made up stories, etc.  
  • Lack of transparency in corporations, there are a lot of things that happen behind closed doors.  
  • Noise comes in when people start worrying about their jobs. 
  • How can corporations balance out the people’s concern with what they cannot talk openly yet? 
  • The human brain will automatically create not good stories in uncertainty because it has to. It’s survival.  
  • Learn how to trust the signals, learn how to push our negative/positive pole with warmer/colder game.  
  • Story of the high stakes meeting with a first-time team that had a off-signal 
  • Even though I knew something was wrong, I had to continue showing up assuming positive intent.  
  • There was 5 days of noise over this signal.  
  • Sometimes, we can unconsciously get lost in what we can change and what we can’t, such as people. “If I can just make them do...”   
  • Anything external is out of our control...unfortunately 
  • Success of our boundaries can’t be dependent on someone else’s decisions.  
  • Job of leaders is really to set the conditions for success 
  • It’s great when we have the opportunity to talk through our signals and our noise, but what happens when we are left with the ambiguity where we don’t get to discover and practice the difference? 
  • The biggest pushback I get from telling people to assume positive intent is the question arising, “But what if they don’t have positive intent?” 
  • Continue to assume positive intent all the way until they are forced to show their hand of intentionally meaning you harm. 
  • Offering the high road does not mean you let someone run all over you, offer up an explanation that does not involve them attacking you. If they continue to rise, people around will see their hand. 
  • If you let the attack get to you, then you will be the “bad guy” 
  • How do I learn how to true up the question of signal vs. Noise? 
  • We can work through and keep the signal as the signal and not necessarily go into story telling or judgment of the signal or the other person involved.  
  • Goes back to playing warmer/colder game with ourselves.  
  • How I ended up with the car I did vs. The car I thought I wanted  
  • Focus on what you want 


Additional Links  

The Elegant Pivot Book 

The Elegant Pivot Workbook 

The Unbreakable Boundaries Podcast 

Episode #16 Mentioned in Podcast: How a moment of vulnerability changed everything 

Guest contact information: 


Email: Jennifer@maneelyconsulting.com