Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone


Dr. Relly Nadler:
We are very excited to have Dr. Mark Goulston. He’s the author of the book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, which has won all kinds of awards.

Mark is a business advisor, a consultant, a trainer, a coach trained as a clinical psychologist who has honed his skills as a FBI police hostage negotiation trainer. He increases people’s ability to get through to anyone. If you can get through some of these folks that the FBI deals with, these are incredible skills.

He has developed these skills through his education. He has a BA from UC Berkeley and a MD from Boston University. He has post-graduate residency in psychiatry at UCLA and he also went on to be a professor at UCLA’s internationally renowned Neuropsychiatric Institute for more than 20 years.

He is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and has one of the highest awards of being named America’s Top Psychiatrist, which happened in 2004, 2005 and again in 2009. This was based on Consumers Research Council of America.

He is frequently called upon to share his expertise with regard to contemporary business, national, world news by television, radio and print media including Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, CBC; all the news networks, Oprah, and he has also been on the Today Show. He’ll give some usable insight for you to use in developing leaders.

He has worked with a ton of different companies providing his expertise; organizations that he has brought either consulting or coaching to have included GE, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Hyatt, Accenture, Astra Zeneca, Kodak, Federal Express, The FBI, Los Angeles District Attorney; we could go on and on.

He’s a member of a variety of different associations one is of the Corporate Directors, he’s also a member of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches. Aside from the book we are going to talk about today, he has also written Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self Defeating Behaviors, and Get Out of Your Own Way At Work: And Help Others Do the Same. He has a lot of different blogs on the Huffington Post he has a syndicated column, Solve Anything with Dr. Mark. He has a column that is on Fast Company and Directors Monthly. I mentioned he is frequently on all kinds of TV and radio shows. He’s also the Co-CEO with LT. General Marty Steel, a former COO of the Marines of a proactive program to help our returning soldiers successfully transition to civilian life and The Leadership Of Life Program for developing leaders from within companies in organizations based on the Marine Crop. Development model.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Mark we are delighted to have you here today. We are so anxious to get into the subject because you have so much to share on a variety of topics and today is obviously going to be talking about your newest best-selling book, Just Listen.

Let me start out the way we love to start out with all of our guests, and you have done this with us before, so I hate to be redundant but I want to make sure that the listeners who are just tuning in the for the first time get to learn a little bit about you and how remarkable you are by how you have honored the leaders in your life that you have really looked up to, respected and admired through the work that you do now. So, who have been the most influential leaders in your life to date?

Dr. Mark Goulston: I’m really fortunate because I have had a number of mentors and what I’ve discovered are mentors are authority figures like your parents who you’ll listen to. Because a lot of times we don’t listen to authority figures who are more authoritarian than authoritative. Someone that I think that is near and dear to all of our hearts, and your hearts too, Cathy and Relly, is Warren Bennis. He is a mentor of mine and one of the great things about Warren, and my book Just Listen is dedicated to him, is he is known as a deep listener. That is the term that David Gergen, one of other people who he has mentored who I have sibling rivalry with, has said about Warren. What that means is when you are with Warren and you leave a conversation, it is clear that he is much more interesting that you are. Warren has advised president’s, he’s probably the top living authority on leadership in the world. Yet when you leave a conversation with Warren, you feel much more interesting and that is because he listens to you.

I can tell you that I have been going to a number of tributes to Warren and he’s not just admired, he is beloved. It’s amazing to watch. I remember I went to one at USC a couple of years ago and all of these people had amazing things to say about him. Top people like Sydney Harmon is someone else who is a long-time friend of Warrens. When Warren got up there his opening statement was, he said: “One of the best things about having people say such nice things about you is that it gives you something to live up to.”

When I’m with Warren I try to drink it into my DNA that quality of really being interested and listening to people. I think the reason I wrote this book is I could see that so many people in the world are talking and not that many people are listening. If they are listening very transactionally, they are not listening to really what is going on beneath the surface. When you listen transactionally, you are a commodity.

Also, I had this realization that really solidified the importance of listening to people. One day my modem got overloaded and any of you who are on a computer and you know what modems are, what they tell you to do when your modem is overloaded is to unplug it, power it down, let it rest, reconnect it, and power it up. I had this realization that everybody in the world is like an overloaded modem. So when you try to push information as a leader or directions into someone who is already overloaded, if they are afraid of you then they will grab whatever you tell them, but something is going to fall out and sometimes, sadly, what falls out is there marriage, their relationship, or their kids, or they are going to tick-off someone else that they are supposed to be something for. What I realized is what is the parallel with unplugging a modem and resting the modem minds of people.

Now a lot of times if you take a mental health day, when you come back you feel a little relaxed, but then you go and you get 150 emails, you are behind on all of the stuff that was happening when you took the time off, and what you are overloaded from is people talking to you and at you from all directions. One of the best ways to create or open people’s minds and literally to create bandwidth in their head, is to listen to them, not just give them a rest, but to listen to them and drill down a little bit about what is really going on with them.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Amazing, that is so spot on.

Mark what websites do you want to make sure people have?

Dr. Mark Goulston: I think MarkGoulston.com will give them a link to other sites. But I’m about to be the editor of a feature at the Huffington Post called The Resilient Life. It’s going to be stories of resilience and lessons learned from those stories. It’s not really going to be experts saying this is what you need to do, it’s going to be people sharing stories or stories of people that are close to them, or they know them personally; then the lessons learned from those stories.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Let’s come back to the story about Frank, how do you find this gentlemen in this situation and tell us a little bit about this story.

Dr. Mark Goulston: Well, before the break, what I was talking about, is that if you look at the world and look at people’s minds as overloaded modems and you want to create an opening in their mind to listen to you, the best thing to do is to listen to them and understand what is going on inside them. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist or psychotherapist or even super intuitive to do that. All you have to do is say to yourself, what’s it like for the other person right now? Just pause, drop your agenda, and say, I wonder what is going on with this other person; whether it’s a boss, a subordinate, a spouse, or a child.

Frank was someone who was in a parking lot of a large shopping center and he had a gun to his neck. What happened is that the SWAT team was called in and negotiators were called in. The SWAT team tries to hide so that they don’t agitate people like this. A lead negotiator was a fellow named Lt. Evans. A lead negotiator is the person who is talking, in the case to Frank, trying to talk him down. A detective Kramer came in. Detective Kramer had been trained at one of my hostage negotiation training workshops. The conversation is kind of going but it doesn’t seem to be going well, it was at somewhat of a standstill. Something that Det. Kramer, the person who was trained by me, says to Lt. Evans was, “say this to Frank.”

What Lt. Evans says to Frank is, “I’ll bet you feel that nobody knows what it is like to have tried everything else and be stuck with this as your only way out, isn’t that true?”

Now this is after we got a little information on him. So after Lt. Evans says that to Frank, Frank says, “what?” Lt. Evans says it again. What happened then, and try to see if you can pick up the nuance here; Frank says, yah, you’re right, nobody knows and nobody gives a &*%F$. What happened is that Frank started to feel understood. The next thing that Lt. Evans was I instructed to say was, “I’ll bet you feel that nobody knows what it’s like to start every day believing that there is more chance that something will go wrong than go right, isn’t that true too?”

Then Frank replies, “yah, every day the same thing happens.” What is happening there is that when you can tune in to the other person and get where they are coming from, they will lean into that understanding and not only do they lean into that understanding, they feel a sense of relief, they mentally exhale, and they actually being to feel grateful for your providing the relief.

Listen to the stories from Dr. Mark Goulston about learning to “Just Listen,” above.


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