On Just Listen

I recently finished reading the book Just Listen by Mark Goulston, which was recommended to me by my mentor. As the title indicates this book is about discovering “the secret to getting through to absolutely anyone”. In this book Mark presents what he calls the “Persuasion Cycle”. He argues that all successful communications move through the steps of this cycle, from beginning to end.  The stages are:

-From resisting to listening

-From listening to considering

-From considering to willing to do

-From willing to do to doing

-From doing to glad they did and continuing to do

The book then goes on to introduce rules and techniques that can be leveraged to move people through the different stages of this cycle. Section II of the book details the nine core rules: move yourself from “OH F#@& to OK”, rewire yourself to listen, make the other person feel “felt”, be more interested than interesting, make people feel valuable, help people to exhale emotionally and mentally, check your dissonance at the door, when all seems lost – bare your neck, steer clear of toxic people.

Section III introduces techniques that can utilized to “achieve buy-in and get through”: the impossibility question, the magic paradox, the empathy jolt, the reverse play, empathy jolt #2, “do your really believe that”, the power of “hmmm…”, the stipulation gambit, from transaction to transformation, side by side, fill in the blanks, take it all the way to “no”, the power thank you and power apology.

The last section, section IV, Mark applies the above learning to successfully navigate through seven challenging situations: the team from hell, climbing the ladder, the narcissist at the table, stranger in town, the human explosion, getting through to yourself, six degrees of separation.

What sets this book apart is the breadth in which it covers the topic of listening from the fundamentals to the techniques to the application. This makes it very practical and applicable in any situation one can encounter, whether at work or at home. Mark does an excellent job of enriching the book with his numerous insights and rich experiences. A highly recommended read.

Below are some excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “When you go from “Oh F#@& to OK,” you go from being fixated on the way you are convinced the world should or shouldn’t be, but never will be, to being ready to deal with the world the way it is.”

2- “…The way to truly win friends and influence the best people is to be more interested in listening to them than you are in impressing them.”

3- “So: how do you master the skill of being interested – and be sincere when you do it? The first key is to stop thinking of conversation as a tennis match. (He scored a point. Now I need to score a point.) Instead, think of it as a detective game, in which your foal is to learn as much about the other person as you can. Go into the conversation knowing that there is something very interesting about the person, and be determined to discover it.”

4- “Passion is about the vision of the company. People want to believe that they’re doing an important job that makes a difference to their customers and clients, and puts a smile on their facts. Enthusiasm is about execution. Even with a great vision, people lose their enthusiasm and fail to accomplish what they’re capable of doing if their leaders are dropping the ball. Pride is about vision, but also about ethics, because few people feel proud if their company is doing something dishonest. It’s also about doing something meaningful, because as people grow older, leaving the world better than they found it becomes more important.”

5- “Owning up to your feeling of vulnerability is empowering. It prevents an amygdala hijack that could result in rash decisions and seriously bad life choices. It allows you to exhale, rather than blowing up. Doing the opposite – pretending your’re fine when your world is imploding – can be dangerous or even deadly.”

6- “Invite people to tell you what they think is impossible, and they’ll lower their guard to consider what’s possible.”

7- “To Succeed in your career, it’s less important what you know or even who you know than who truly knows you and how they know you. – Ivan Misner, Founder, BNI”


Omar Halabieh

Just Listen

Just Listen


One comment

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