Embrace Possibility Just Listen by Mark Goulston
/Just Listen by Mark Goulston

Just Listen by Mark Goulston

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Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston

  • Published: March 2015
  • ISBN-10: 0814436471
  • EP Rating: 4 out of 5 (good read)

EP Main Takeaway: Focus on the other person by listening and making them feel important and felt. People do things for a reason - ask questions to find out why; don't assume. Manage your own emotions by being aware of your physical reactions, emotions felt, impulses, consequences, solutions, and benefits.

Our notes:

Three-part brain

  • reptilian/lower - fight or flight
  • middle - emotions
  • upper - rational

To connect, talk to upper brain; redirect conversation back to higher-level processing

  • Amygdala hijack - when there is a threat and it's perceived out of control, your amygdala takes over

Mirror neurons - transports us into other person's mind and helps the other person feel less alone; when the world doesn't give back to them, there is a mirror neuron deficit;

Rules to get through to anyone

  1. Get through to yourself first instantly
    • "Oh crap to okay" process **
      • oh crap: reaction phrase; don't deny you are upset; acknowledge them
      • oh god: release phase; let go
      • oh geez: re-center phase
      • oh well: refocus phase
      • okay: re-engage phase
  2. Put words to emotions
    • We put people into mental boxes: gender, generation, nationality, education, emotional connection
    • Brain builds on past experience - better at leaping to conclusions than analyzing them
  3. Perceiving is believing. Misperceiving is deceiving and prevents achieving
    • There is a reason why people behave the way they do; find out, don't assume
  4. Help people feel felt
    • Attach emotion to what you think that person is feeling
    • "I'm trying to get a sense of what you're feeling and I think it is (emotion), is that correct? If not, then what are you feeling?"
    • "How (emotion) are you?"
    • "And the reason you're (emotion) is because ..."
    • "Tell me what needs to happen for that feeling to feel better; what part can I play and you play to make that happen?"
  5. Everyone is a real person inside - step into their shoes instead of stepping on their toes.
  6. You're interesting if you're interested.  Be interested.  Don't try to impress!  See conversation like detective game**
    • How did you get into what you do?
    • What are you trying to accomplish? What will that do for you?
    • What's important to you?
    • Get them to talk about what they feel, think and do.
  7. Ask for advice
  8. Be the first person to ask a question and ask one where the other person gets to be interesting.
  9. Make others, even those that annoy you, feel important and valuable.
    • "It makes a difference that you're here." ***

Handling complainers:

  • What you're saying is important and I want to give it my full attention, come back in 2 hours along with your recommendation and impact of that recommendation
  • Reassure that they matter
  • Don't add more stress to people who are distressed; Help them come out of their negative state
    • get people to uncross arms by asking them to talk about something they are passionate about
    • don't take issue with anything that is said
    • encourage the other person to go on when the other person finishes; don't short circuit the venting
    • "What's the most frustrated you've felt with us?  How bad was it?  What did you want to do?  What did you end up doing?"

Dissonance - the gap between perception and reality; quiet confidence may seem like timidity

10 most common causes of dissonance

Believing you are:

  • shrewd when others see you as sly
  • confident when others see you as arrogant
  • humorous when others see you as inappropriate
  • energetic when others see you as hyper
  • a person with strong opinions when others see you as opinionated
  • passionate when others see you as impulsive
  • strong when others see you as rigid
  • detailed oriented when others see you as nit picking
  • quiet when others see you as indecisive
  • sensitive when others see you as needy

Ask honest people to describe your worst traits ***

  • What do I do to strike people that way?
  • How often do I do that?
  • What can I do differently moving forward?

Repair dissonance with PEP - I need your help to make this a better company; passion, enthusiasm, and pride

  • How would you rate these three elements?

Not all dissonance is avoidable so anticipate it - admit upfront that you'll speak up

Don't be afraid of sharing your vulnerabilities

  • people will help if a mistake is honest
  • people mirror your facade
  • bare your neck (assertive vulnerability)

Keep stressful people out of your life and connect with people who help you grow

  • stay away from pathologically needy people who demand constant help;
    • warning signs: plays victim, blames, complains, never-ending neediness,
    • escape carefully
  • don't play a bully's game - act bored and disengaged
  • neutralize takers - people who always ask for help; use quid pro quo
  • Avoid
    • Narcissists: "so ... enough about you"; needs to be right, impatient and interrupts;
    • Psychopaths: lack of empathy, ruthless, get away from these people; can't be touched emotionally; manipulates
  • Can I count on this person? If not, evaluate if you should cut.

Impossibility question: ***

  • What is something that is impossible to do? What would make it possible?

The Magic Paradox: ***

  • Reflect their emotion and spell out all the reasons they are feeling negative or resistant:
    • "I bet that you believe or feel that you're letting the team down and no one understands what you're going through"
  • Sets off cascade of yes
    • "I bet there is a time that you're not able to please everyone. It's probably not getting easier."
    • "I bet that you're hesitant to tell me straight out you can't do it"

Change from resistance to willing to do: use empathy jolt when someone is blaming rather than listening.

  • If I were to ask the other person, what's the most frustrating thing to work for you, what would they say? What does that make him want to do?
  • Take time to step into other people's shoes

Think of reasons why someone would be disappointed with you and meet with them to tell them that, ask if that is true?

  • If not, ask "what are the most frustrating things? How much do those things bother you?" ***

When people exaggerate, ask "do you really believe that?"

Stipulation: show poise by stating people's misgivings about you

  • Get in quickly: I know I'm a (blank)
  • Neutralize problem: I have this (relevant experience)
  • Get out: that's why I think you will benefit

Don't get into a transactional communication mode - get people to share their wisdom; be fascinated in other people;

  • If there is one thing I can help you achieve your goal, what would it be?

Ask yourself:

  • What would I like to be doing with my life this time next year;
  • What do I need more or less of in my life now, if my kids looked at me 20 years from now,
  • What would make them proud of me?

Create a shared activity and ask questions:

  • Respect the answers and get their advice
  • Ask them to fill in the blank
    • you're looking to hire someone like me because you're looking to ....

When selling to clients, biggest mistake is asking for too little: keep asking till you get "no"

  • "I either pushed too hard or I failed to address something that's important to you; where did I go too far?"
  • Always keep client in control all the time

Offer a power thank you

  • Thank for specific action, acknowledge effort and state positive impact

When you make a mistake, offer power apology especially since mistakes show the other person is not important. Include the following elements:

  • Remorse
  • Restitution: make amends
  • Rehabilitation
  • Requesting forgiveness

With high performers: recognize achievement and remove obstacles and toxic people

With complainers: make them feel important; "do you really believe that ..."

With those who are jealous: "I know I'm newer and not as experienced as you ..."

With senior people: "make them a mentor"

Stand out to your manager by:

  • Asking: "What are three things I should always do, never do?"
  • Helping your manager feel felt
    • I want to learn everything you know, how do I do that?

Elements of Effective networking *

  • Visibility: tell people why they will like you; be interested, not interesting; make them feel felt; ask transformational questions; use power thank you's
  • Credibility: show competency and create confidence; present self honestly; be first to offer and always deliver
  • Profitability: Do both partners win? Keep making other person feel valuable. Focus on what's in it for them?

When someone is hijacked by emotions and in attack mode:

  • Ask them to tell you what's happening
  • Playback exactly what the other person said and wait till other person says yes
    • "and that makes you feel ..."
    • "and the reason it's so important to fix this now is ..."
    • "... really, keep talking so I can make sure I can understand it and let's think about how we can get you out"

Pick goal that is reachable and reasonable and have someone to keep you accountable

Use six-step pause by practicing*: 

  1. Physical awareness: identify physical reactions
  2. Emotional awareness: attach emotion to sensations you're feeling
  3. Impulse awareness: this feeling makes me want to
  4. Consequence awareness: if I follow through, what's most likely to happen?
  5. Solution awareness: a better thing to do would be
  6. Benefits awareness: if I apply this new solution, the benefits will be ...

Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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