Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which connects you with the world’s top independent management consultants. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I am so excited to be here today with Mark goulston, who is a global expert in the topic of listening and the topic of conflict management is written seven books and has two more on the way. And to find out more about his books and speaking and connect with him. Visit Mark gholston.com will have that link in the show notes. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark Goulston 00:42
Thank you for having me on. Well, I’m really excited to speak with you and see what kind of trouble we can get in and out of.
Will Bachman 00:48
So Mark, you have the book, just listen, which is a big bestseller. And you told me that you have some new thinking that’s even gone beyond that. Tell me what are some of your key tips on how to listen?
Mark Goulston 01:05
Well, some of my background is I was a I was a psychiatrist for 40 years, and I was a suicide specialist for 25. And none of my patients died by suicide. And, and I think what prevented that I’ve been trying to figure that out, is that I was fortunate in that after my training, I went out and I didn’t have to follow a protocol rigidly. Because one of my early mentors was the probably the top pioneer in the study of suicide, and he would refer me all these multiple temperatures. And what I realized is when I was with them, since they were multiple attempters. They’d looked at me with their eyes and their eyes, were saying you’re checking boxes, and I’m running out of time. I mean, I could just I mean, I’m just picturing it right now as we’re talking. And so I had a choice, throw away the boxes, and help them or check the boxes and cover my behind. And so I decided to throw away the boxes. And what I learned to do is to listen into people’s eyes. And and when I and you, anybody can learn to listen into people’s eyes. The point is, you have to let go of any agenda you have. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from a British psychoanalyst named Wilfred, beyond. And he said, the purest form of listening is to listen without memory or desire. Now what he meant is that when you listen to people with memory, you have an old personal agenda, you’re trying to plug them into kind of your limiting belief, your confirmation bias. And when you listen with desire, you have a new personal agenda, which is close the deal, but you’re not really getting where they’re coming from. And so in my book, just listen, I learned to listen into people. And I spoke and as I mentioned, I spoke in Russia, actually with a Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, this past October, and I introduced my latest thinking about this thing, which I’d love to share with you. And your listeners, I’d love to hear it. And what I talked about, and it’s actually a video of me, if you go to Mark olson.com, one of the blogs with a video clip from me in Russia is to be present focused on what people are listening for, not on what they’re listening to. So here’s the here’s the distinction. And I hope you’re listening in. When you focus on what people are listening to, you often rattle off a bunch of capabilities, bunch of bullet points, and it’s very respectful, but it’s very transactional. And they’ll give you their mind. You know, if you’re engaging and you’re in, you’re not off putting. But that’s all I’ll give you. But if you focus instead on what they’re listening for, with what’s referred to as a beginner’s mind, and you are able to identify it, they’ll give you everything. So here’s an example. I’m going to demonstrate it with you again,
Will Bachman 04:27
Mark Goulston 04:30
So if I focus on what you’re listening to, you know, you’ve read up a little bit on me, you want to cover some of the things and and you’re asking me to sort of knock out various things and and you hope that that will be engaging to your listeners. And I can knock out a bunch of little sound bites. And you know, hopefully if I’m entertaining and only mildly tangential, which would be a great feat for me. You know, It’ll go, okay. But if I focus on what you’re listening for, well, this is what I think you’re listening for. you’re wanting to grow this podcast to grow the number of listeners, and you’re listening for content for your listen to your listeners, where they will reach out to everyone they know. And they say you got to check out this podcast. And that they start sending links, and they actually start pushing your podcast on to their friends. And so I’m not kidding. You need to check this out. And, and you’re listening for guests and content that will accomplish that. You’re actually also listening for something and you might want to write this down. If you’re listening. And you might want to write this down. Well, you’re listening for content that causes people to go Whoa, wow. Huh? Yes. Well, while Yes. I toward a couple years ago, playing Steve Jobs coming back from the dead, I had the turtleneck I had the glasses on. And it was basically to tee up. This is how Steve Jobs and Elon Musk think is what they triggering people is Whoa, I can’t believe what I just saw and heard read or felt. So that disrupts preoccupied minds. Wow, that’s amazing. Astonishing. Unbelievable. You do that? And then this is too good not to use. I don’t know I’m going to use it. But it’s too good not to use. Yes. I figured out how to use it. And when I was playing Steve Jobs. The centerpiece was I showed him video, which was a dramatization of Steve Jobs, discovering the graphical user interface at Xerox PARC. And if you look up National Geographic, Steve Jobs Xerox PARC, it’s two minutes, you will see the clip. And you’ll see Steve Jobs with his arms crossed the person playing and seeing the graphical user interface. And you see is he says skeptical, cynical self. And then he, he lays his eyes on the screen at Xerox PARC. And you see that he goes, you can see his face. He goes, wow. And then he says to the Xerox people, Xerox PARC, people, Can I try it? And he sits down and he starts to sweat. And he’s mesmerized by the graphical user interface. So that’s how, and then he looks back at was the ACC with a look that says What do you think of this and was the ACC is famously known for saying once they go there, they’re not going back. And that was that. And then it ends with going back to Apple and creating the Macintosh. So if you’re a consultant or service product provider, you want to listen to yourself, you want to look at your website, you want to look at everything that anyone sees, here’s a read and make sure that it creates Whoa, Walton. Yes. Because if you don’t, it’s there. Nevermind, No, thanks. Bye. And one of the ways you can do that is by focusing on what people listening for. So to get back to you see, I promise that’d be a little tangential. To get back to you. Well, I think what you’re, you’re listening for content that people can’t get anywhere else that triggers Whoa, whoa, yes. And you’re also listening for on the other side, experts who may have best selling books, like you can’t post the interview, because it’s so awful and so boring. Because the trust of your listeners is important to you. And you don’t want to disappoint them. And you want to always give them value, and you want to give them value that is relevant and immediately usable. So is any of that accurate?
Will Bachman 09:07
Yeah, I think that’s pretty. I think you got it, Mark, I’d say I probably pay a little bit less attention, maybe than I should, to kind of the numbers and how many people are sharing it stuff. That’s great. If people do please do listener, that’d be awesome. Really, I guess I’m particularly on the second part of, you know, looking to have conversations where I learned something where I’m surprised, and I try to follow my own curiosity. So you’re Wow, whoa, whoa. And yes. Love that framework. And that that kind of applies if we’re thinking about, you know, being the speaker, right and getting people to listen to us. What are some tips that you have for were, you know, for a consultant or professional sitting down with a client I want to make us better listeners to make sure that we are not just kind of hearing what they’re saying on the surface. You mentioned listening by Looking in their eyes and listening with your eyes. What are some tips you have for really being like a world class listener?
Mark Goulston 10:18
So there’s an article I wrote, and I think if you do a search for it, you’ll find it. It’s been published in a number of places. And it was to close more sales or gigs never answer a question in the first conversation. To close more sales are never answered. And so that begs the question, so also, that’s an example of you want to be compelling. For a while before you get into convincing, compelling opens people’s minds well, while he has opens people’s minds, if you start to convince too soon, they’re gonna nod from the neck up, smile, and then not engage you. And so what that article talked about, is, as you listen to people, and you get them to talk about the problems they’re trying to solve, listen for hyperbole, such as awful, amazing, horrendous, terrific. And listen for inflection, when they increase the the, the intensity of the voice, listen for that. And when they share that with you, they may ask you a question. And you can say, Well, I can answer that question. But say more about the amazing. And they’re going to what we’re saying more about the awful. And so as they say more, what you’re doing is you’re getting them to open up deeper and deeper. And when you focus on hyperbole or inflection, that’s the tip of the iceberg. And they’re going to open up more and more. And so if in your mind’s eye, you can sense that they’re revealing much more to you than they reveal to most other service providers. So they’re going to be interested in what you have to say, because they’ve revealed more than they usually do to people. And at that point, they might say, Well, so what do you think? And what they’re thinking is, Oh, my God, you got me to really reveal much more. And at that point, and this is what the article talks about, and you could say, you know, I can tell you what I think. But I’d like to take our conversation to the ICU. And I get away with that, because I’m a medical doctor, and in particular, look at you like, What do you mean, I see you, you could say, I was listening for what was most important, critical and urgent, what you told me, important a year from now, criticals, three to six months, urgent is this week. And I can guess what those might be. But can you fill me in? on what’s most important, critical and urgent from what we’ve already, you’ve already shared with me? Or maybe you haven’t, because what you really want them to open up about is what’s urgent. You know, we hope to get to what’s critically important, but every day we have stuff that’s urgent. And so if you can, your mind’s eye, you’re going through the layers of an onion. And so you can imagine that they open up to you, with when you did a deep dive in the hyperbole or inflection, you get them to focus on what’s important, critical and urgent. And you can sense that now they’re going to be starved for what do you what do you think? What do you think? And even then, what you say is, you know, I can tell you what I think but you’ve just shared with me stuff that’s important, critical and urgent. And I don’t want to cheat you out of my best answer. And I want to check out some things. Because, you know, I don’t want to come back to you after I’ve checked on some things that you’ve really just told me a lot. And, and I guess what it comes down to is, do you want me to make the effort? To give you my best answer. After I check out some things. I can give you something about how we work with other companies. But it’ll be a B plus answer will be an answer. So what do you think? So if you can follow this, well, what you’re doing is you’re opening them up, getting them to focus, you leave them hanging, because what you want them to do is you want them to initiate your follow up. If you say how important and you mentioned stuff that was urgent, how important would it be for me to go check out some things that I wanted to know so that I don’t give you anything less than my best answer. So hopefully they’ll say, No, I’d like that. Okay, so how do we arrange a follow up? So can you follow me That your mind’s eye will?
Will Bachman 15:02
Oh, yeah, that’s very helpful. I’d say, you know, I have a personal thumb rule, which I call the 7030 squared rule. And so that’s in a conversation and initial conversation with a client, I want them to do 70% of the talking, and I’ll do 30% of talking. That’s my deal. And then of my 30%, I want 70% of that 30% to be asking questions, and 30% of my 30% to be, you know, giving answers to their questions. So, I guess my, my own bias might be that if, if like, you only ask questions, and you never give any answers. These clients I’ve ever interacted with my game? Like, what do you only ask questions ever? So I’ll answer some, but I don’t like to talk about myself too much. Particularly in you know, nobody really wants to hear about the projects that you’ve done in the past, and the similar work and blah, blah, blah, just boring to hear all that stuff. So I love your point about kind of taking their questions and reframing it going back to them. That’s kind of go ahead.
Mark Goulston 16:13
Yeah. In fact, until I add something, you know, also, something that I do, I just signed on with Tonto Capital Partners out of London, and I’m a conflict management coach. So they’re gonna introduce me to their portfolio companies, because conflict adjust to time and energy and money. Black Hole, and so I help with that. And in some, I’m reminded of one of the the interventions that often a lot of people in the world feels that the world doesn’t treat them as important. You know, either at home, or at work. I mean, a lot of people feel like they’re underappreciated. So I love what you’re saying. And I love the framework, and it shows your background from McKinsey and whatnot. But I think when you say to someone, you know, what you’ve shared with me is much too important. Use the important word for me to give you anything less than the best possible answer, which I can’t give you now, because you’ve caused me to want to check on something so I can give you that. So when you say the word important, a lot of people just don’t feel that way. So you can try it out, modify what will saying what I’m saying, you have to be comfortable with it. And again, it’s, it’s not really about the numbers for your listeners, you want to give them value. It’s all about value. And you want them to get the most value. But it does go along with kind of what you’re saying is, the more you’re talking is about asking questions. So they reveal more and more in getting them talking, you know, the more they’re going to be invested. In your solution, I’m just saying, If you keep if you reveal more and more than other people do, and out of respect for the importance of what they’ve revealed. And you show the humility of instead of being a know it all, and then saying, Oh, we’ve done a, b and c for everybody else. You show him respect for the importance to them, and that you want to furthermore just take the effort. So it’s not just a dialing for dollars, cold call. Try it out. You know, you know, if you’re listening in, try it out. I mean, you have nothing to lose, but certainly come back, check out my site and tell me how it worked or how you define it or, or how it backfired. Yeah.
Will Bachman 18:52
Now, tell me some more about some of the research that has been done around listening. Some of the key insights from your book, I’m curious, you know, a lot of people have opinions on on listening, you know, as you were working on the book, what, what does the science say about? Should you take notes or not take notes? Should you try to paraphrase the person or not? Should you? You know, ask Yes, no questions are open ended questions. You know, a lot, a lot of us have sort of common knowledge or, you know, what we’ve learned from our, you know, at a consulting firm on how to how to sit there and listen to a client in a meeting. But what does some of the science say about that?
Mark Goulston 19:34
Well, I’ll give you a little bit of neuroscience because I’m very passionate about that. And do we have a few minutes right and go into it with you? We sure do. So in in my book, just listen, which is how do you cause people to not just feel understood by you but feel felt by you. When people feel understood, they nod from the neck up when people feel felt by They lean into you because most people feel alone. And there’s something that was discovered in the cake monkeys called mirror neurons in the late 1980s. And mirror neurons were first called monkey see monkey do neurons, because they were seen as responsible for imitation. That’s why they will call it monkey see monkey do neurons. But they’ve also been identified in humans. And they seem associated with imitation, learning and empathy. And people on the spectrum with or who have Asperger’s, they have some dysfunction in their ability to mirror other people. And what I talked about in just listen with the concept of the mirror neuron gap, which means when you feel you’re out in the world, mirroring their needs and their concerns, even if you’re not a scorekeeper, it creates a hungry new for people to care about your needs and concerns. And the wider the gap, the more agitating it is. and certain things that widen the gap are sarcasm when someone’s dismissive of you, when someone interrupts you, when someone has to have the last word, all these kinds of things that may offend your sensibilities increase the mirror neuron gap. But there are things that close the mirror neuron gap. And so to get into a little more neurophysiology, when the mirror neuron gap is wide, it triggers stress. And when stress is triggered, it triggers an outpouring of cortisol, the stress hormone, when the cortisol goes up, it starts to activate a part of our brain called the amygdala, the amygdala is part of the emotional part of our brain. And when that becomes overly activated, it signals blood flow to go to our lower survival brain to survive and away from our prefrontal cortex. So we’re literally eat, fight flight, or deer in the headlights freeze, but we can’t access our upper thinking. Because we’re there in survival. And so a big mirror neuron gap causes that. Whereas oxy oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone counteracts cortisol. And so when people feel not just understood, but felt by you, oxytocin goes up, cortisol goes down, mirror neuron gap, closes, a magdala, settles down, blood flow goes up into the upper brain, and you can have a constructive conversation with someone that you previously was agitated. In fact, I’m going to give you a magical hack that you can use professionally. But it’s a magical hack that you can use in your personal life that totally did totally flips around high cortisol to oxytocin. So can I play that on you?
Will Bachman 23:15
I’d love it.
Mark Goulston 23:18
So I’d like you to imagine someone in your life. And this can be professionally also, who’s frustrated, you know, they’re, they’re venting, they’re sullen, or pouty. They’re moody. And normally, especially if they’re venting at us, we often we get triggered or amygdala gets triggered, and we say, Now Calm down, calm down, it’s gonna be okay. Or we give them advice that they don’t want, which just makes it worse. And so instead, think of the next time you’re with someone who’s venting it, you allow them to get it off their chest. And instead of looking at them, yourself, like a deer in the headlights, wait, one to two seconds after the event, something to show them that you’re not getting defensive, and you’re not getting angry. And you’re not going to lecture them, look them in the eye. And you say, you seem frustrated, and I think you’re holding back. They’re going to go What? You seem frustrated, and I think you’re holding back. Because I think you’re also upset and disappointed. And it’s something in my latest book called talking to crazy. You know how to deal with the irrational, impossible people in your life. It’s about how to calm down people who drive you crazy. It’s not about mental illness. And it’s called the Fudd fud crud technique. And they’re going to go what you could say, yeah, you seem frustrated and I think you’re holding back because I think you’re also upset and disappointed. And then what you want them to do, because most people will talk about being frustrated. If you lead with you seem upset, they’re going to get defensive, you seem angry. But people will talk about being frustrated. And what you want to do is go deeper, as we mentioned earlier, in the consulting thing, listen for the hyperbole and whatever and get them to go deeper. And then you say, Yeah, and I can understand you’re frustrated. And what do you upset about exactly, and you have them go deeper and deeper. But the magic thing is that after you see them get stuff off their chest, and you’re not getting defensive, you’re not disagreeing, you say, and you know, you are better disappointed, either and me, yourself, or it’s turned into this, what’s that about? But if you can see this and feel this, well, in your mind’s eye, what you’ve done is you’ve mirrored them perfectly. And instead of getting defensive and increasing the mirror neuron gap, you’re closing it with that, with that targeted empathy. And by the time they’re talking about being disappointed, you can actually feel them calm down. This might be a helpful thing, by the way, if you have a consultation, it’s going to left field, you know, and it gets awkward and you get defensive, and you’re afraid you’re gonna lose it. Again, use your own words, but you can say to your client, you could say, you know, I’m picking up in college that you’re frustrated. And I think you’re holding back what I think you’re also upset about where the consultations gone. I think it disappointed. Tell me about this. So can you picture any of this in your mind’s eye? Well,
Will Bachman 26:44
yeah, absolutely. And as you’re talking it through, especially with the situation today, love to get your thoughts around how, and your earlier points around listening. And by looking in the eyes and listening with your eyes. With, with so much happening now on zoom with a video conference, we’re literally you cannot look someone in the eye. Because if I look at the video camera, I can’t see them. And if they’re looking at the video camera, right? So you can’t, you can’t literally can’t look it overnight. What are some tips for applying these techniques when you’re on the phone, or when you’re on a video conference?
Mark Goulston 27:23
Boy, did you tee up something I’m going to lay on you. So I wrote an article called the 10, word remote check in called. And it’s in Mark goulston.com. And there’s even a little video. And because a number of CEOs and entrepreneurs have said to me, You know, I know our people are stressed and scared. And so we do a check in. But we got to get stuff done. You know, I don’t want it to be an empty gesture. But if someone says during the check in when my mom’s on a ventilator, and it doesn’t look good, it’s kind of a showstopper. And so something I’ve developed with clients, and you can find it all spelled out with a video you can use. And so I want you to picture a zoom call. So you’re there, and everybody’s looking at each other. And one of the reasons people get exhausted and zoom calls, is because you need to be paying attention. If you just type in your name, instead of who you are people saying, oh, he’s picking his teeth. He’s melting taxiing. He’s doing this. You know, I’d like to do that. And so you, if you’re on a zoom video call, you can’t be looking away. And that is exhausting. And then if you look into the chat, the chat often gets filled up with, oh, here’s a great link. Oh, here’s something in it. And so you’re going back and forth from the chat area, to making eye contact. it’s doubly exhausting. So imagine this, this is the 10 word checking. And so if you’re leading the call, and so I’ve been so some CEOs have been doing this, and entrepreneurs have been doing this with their people. And some of them say it’s a game changer. Someone told me they said, this is the best culture exercise we’ve ever done. And you say something like this, you know, we’re all in this together. We’re all isolated. And I don’t want any of our team or a group to really feel alone in something awful. So I’m going to give you 10 words. And I’m like each of you to imagine the worst it’s been for you. So instead of sugarcoating how everything’s going to be great. I don’t want anyone to be alone in the worst. And I want you to imagine the worst it’s been since our last call. And I want you to type in your name in the word that matches Here are the 10 words, and you have to say it in a non transactional voice, it’s got to be more like an NPR voice. And it goes like this. Well, here are the 10. Words anxious, depressed, frustrated, angry, ashamed, alone, lonely, exhausted, nom. And pick the word that matches what you felt at your worst. And so imagine that you’re looking at the chat room. And instead of it being all this stuff is Joe, who you really don’t know. And he writes in num, there’s Mary, and she writes in anxious. There’s Jeff. And he writes in angry. And so what happens is, if you picture this in the chat room, there is a collective exhale, because you’ve just immersed the entire group in oxytocin. And what happens is, you get this immense feeling without someone going over into detail. God, we’re all in this together. And, and then you admire everyone. You say, God, we’re all of this together, and we’re all doing the best we can. And so what it is, is you give people a double dose of oxytocin, and what some companies are doing, because some people will say, Well, you know, you don’t want to leave them hanging. Well, the point is, it was the worst moment, they’re not there. Now, currently on the call, you just ask them to go to that bad place together. And then what some companies are doing is saying, I’m going to print up the chat room, at least this part of it. And I want those of you who at your worse, who felt the same word, check in with each other once a week, and be helpful to each other because that you’re worse, you get none. And someone else that they’re worse gets angry, you’re going to be out of sync. But if you connect with other people get numb, or other people get angry. And you just check in with, hey, what made you angry? What made you numb? What are you discovering is helping you to get through? what’s helping you to get back on track? And so as I said, one organization said this was this was the best and most concise culture building exercise they went through. Can you picture that in your mind’s eye? Well,
Will Bachman 32:46
I can. I can. And I can imagine how what the impact that would have sounds like a great exercise, actually. Thank you. Yeah, we had Susan drum on this show, who shared just the tip to have a check in at the beginning of a call, as opposed to just launching into business as usual, and how important that is. And this seems like a nice approach to do that, especially with a little bit larger group where you can kind of do it in parallel. So you’re not asking each person to go around and say what, you know what terrible thing is going on in their life. But everybody can kind of get it out there quickly and see that other people are suffering as well.
Mark Goulston 33:28
Yeah, and the neuro science behind it is you can look up a fella named Matthew Lieberman. He’s not a UCLA, he wrote a book called The social brain, and he’s one of the top researchers. And he said that when you accurately apply the correct word to an underlying feeling, it lowers amygdala activation by a third. Wow. So something else I will share with you consultants, something, I worked with a general from the Marines, and we worked on a translation program from 2006 to 2008. His name was General Marty Steele. And he spent an hour to an hour and a half with 600. Marines one on one, and they thought that was the best thing. And I said, Marty, would you talk to them about? And so this is a technique I learned from Marty. It’s called the five wheelies. He said, Well, you know, I meet with them, and I’d say how’s it going marine? And they would talk and he’d say, what’s really going on? And then they would go a little lower. And he repeat that he says, like, I understand you’re frustrated, but what’s really going on? And they go deeper and deeper. And there’s a point he said around the fifth what’s really going on and you have to say it in a wanting to know and care. He said, when you hit the bottom they would look at you like deer in the headlight. And he said a number of them would say, sir, I did and saw awful things. And when I closed my eyes, too, I see them a lot more clearly. So I don’t close my eyes much sir. They would give them a direct letter. To put that aside, he said, if you’re a marine in active duty, we’ve seen and done awful things. Not intentionally, but you deserve to live. And so, again, I’m giving you hopefully tips that people can use in their own way. But that will also get people to open up so so what’s really going on? And, and often what’s really going on is rumors about a layoff. I’m over 50 I don’t know if I’m employable. I, in my in my company, you know, I, I brought in a consultant last year, that was just a big time, energy and money, black hole. And I gotta make sure this, this doesn’t turn out that way. Okay, but can you imagine, you know, when people open that up, but you can’t jump in transactionally, you can’t do a bait and switch when you get people to open up. They will bond with you. I have a podcast called my wake up call, which I hope people will check out and I just signed to be part of the C suite. network of about I think they have 170 or just great podcasts. So you’ll be able to see it anywhere you get podcasts. But I speak to influencers like Larry King, Norman Lear, Doug Cohn and Ken Blanchard, Esther, whoa, Jackie Jean Allen. I’m up to Episode 100. And everybody opens up on those. Because, you know, I guess you can take the the therapist out of the country, but you can take whatever the therapy out of the water, but people open up. But because of that, I can go back to any of the people I’ve interviewed. And they’ll return my email within 12 hours. But it’s always about bringing them value. It’s not there to sell them on anything, it’s that I’ll get a thought that reminded me of them. And then I’ll share that with them. And and I think, you know, if you get people to open up in here, I’m going to get a little strong with some of you. I remember years ago as part of a networking group of service providers, and then you’d have lunch with people to get to them better. And I remember there was one lunch, and this is in my book, just listen. Where there was a you know, two dynamic, dynamic young man probably in his early 30s, and a woman, probably a little bit younger. And he asked her all these questions. And they were great questions. I noticed some of them. They’re questions I never asked. And she really liked them. I took them aside afterwards. And I said, You took a training course to injure. And he said, Yeah, I said, those were great questions. I said, you know, one day, you might have conversations with billionaires. I’ve had a few. And if I was a billionaire, I know that you took a course. So if you’re going to ask questions that open people up deeply care about the answer. It’s really important. that make any sense to you.
Will Bachman 38:38
Does, Mark, you know, I wanted to ask you about an earlier part of your career, where you were my understanding as a hostage negotiator.
Mark Goulston 38:48
Why train them? I want to be clear about that.
Will Bachman 38:52
Where you train them, what were some of the kind of points that you wanted hostage negotiators to know, as they faced these conversations about listening about, you know, what, what were some of the highlights of what you wanted them to take away?
Mark Goulston 39:11
Well, there’s actually a video of me doing a 20 minute one of the training with FBI and police. And actually what happened is, there was a time when I spoke I played a devil’s advocate. So when I, when you see the video, I play, I take off my jacket and I have a police uniform underneath at all. And I haven’t shaved for a week. I pull out a gun and I say I’m the guy in your department who shot the kid with a plastic gun last year. And I’ve been on medical leave for a year. But unless you talk me out of it, I’m going on permanently even and I pull out a gun and I hold it to my neck. And I say and then you live with the ghost of someone that you should have been able to save in didn’t in this time. It’s one Have your own. So it’s pretty riveting because no matter what they said, I just pushed back and said, and after 20 minutes, I pulled the trigger. And then I say, this is what you didn’t ask, that might cause me to give up the gun. And, and there’s something I talk about in a fluffin. And it’s might be called the listening paradox. And what it is, it’s, again, it’s a rapid way to narrow a gap. So what’s happening is when you’re with some hostage takers, and again, my specialty was in the, in the emotional impulse of hostage taker, as opposed to, you know, the one to terrorists who’s really negotiating a deal, you know, so So those were other specialists and trainers I knew, but mine was the emotional person who had just, you know, kind of gone out on the ledge, and couldn’t get back. And so the so the listening paradox, I think I refer to something else, is, what you might say to the other person, is something that they’d be hesitant to say. But if you can give them the words, and they express it, it lowers the mirror neuron gap. And so one of the tips in one of the trainings and I speak about it very early on in just listen to listening book is, was to say to someone who was in a, like a big parking mall parking lot with a shotgun, he didn’t have a hostage, but he had a shotgun, and that a SWAT team called him. And so it’s what’s called the magic paradox. And you say, and so here’s what someone who was trained by me, said to this person, again, doesn’t work in all cases. But he said, I’ll bet you’re feeling that about your feeling that nobody knows what it’s like to be you. And, and nobody gives a flying, whatever. And this is what you’re left with. Is that true? So what they’re thinking but didn’t have the words nobody feel knows what I’m feeling. And this is what I’m left with. And so that the magic paradox, because what they’ll say is, Yes, that’s true. And you’re right, nobody gives a flying, whatever. And I’ll bet you may feel that nobody understands what it’s like to start every day and have every day blow up in your face, until it pushes you to the brink. Is that true, too. So if you can follow, you’re giving them words to express things. So how would you use that as a service provider when they’re pushing back? Here’s something again, adjusted to, you know, your own comfort level. But if you had a conversation with a potential client, and they’re nodding from the neck up, and they say, I understand, and they say, No, let me think about it. And you can send me some links. But your gut tells you, it’s not going well. One of the ways that you can make use of this magic paradox is what you say to the person. And again, you have to be comfortable. You could say, can I run something by you? And hopefully they’ll be curious. And they’ll say, yes, you could say you’ve made decisions in your life, possibly in your career, your company backfired. And I’m not just pointing that out to you. We’ve all done that is not true. And they’ll maybe nod like, Where are you getting with this? And you said, I’ve done them too. I can tell you that when I’ve made decisions that have backfired. And I somehow made it through. I said to myself, I can’t go through that again. I just can’t. And I’m wondering if you’re like most people I know, who’ve made decisions like that. And they barely made it through career intact. They said I can’t go through it again. I can’t make another decision. That backfires on me. And I’m wondering if you’ve experienced that, that you know, you’re not 100% Sure. That saying yes. Won’t result in that. Any of that? Does any of that land with you? Some people listening in will say that, yeah, that’s that’s too much being a shrink mark. We can’t do that. But again, the font I’m saying it’s a way of interpreting the resistance as a as internal flashback in them, that I can’t afford to make another bad mistake and have my boss said, What the heck did you hire these people for?
Will Bachman 45:13
Yeah, and I think that some of those questions that you’re asking could be Nerdist with only slight modification reformulated to be used in a professional context as well, if you’re presenting ideas at a progress review, you know, a consulting situation where you’re sensing some reluctance, trying to make explicit what people might be holding on internally.
Mark Goulston 45:41
Absolutely. Absolutely. So are these helpful because I, another tip just came to mind or anything’s usable? It is,
Will Bachman 45:52
yeah. And I, I’d love to, I’d love to hear the tip that just came to mind and, and also like to get your thoughts around, you know, the coronavirus pandemic. And, you know, I think that you’ve put some thought into maintaining kind of resilience and stability, and surviving this current scenario and love to hear your thoughts around that.
Mark Goulston 46:12
Well, there’s a program that we’ve also developed, called free pair. And this could be a book but as I said, I got two other books I got to do. So this, this will probably just be a program. And, and it could be pri dash pa sorry, for life, or pri dash p AR ri for your future. And what pri means is you need to reframe the new normal, which is is is actually being sorted out, and there are going to be some amazing winners. And there’s going to be Unfortunately, many casualties. So you need to sort of pre is you’ve got to be able to look at the new normal, which has not been spelled out as a huge opportunity. As opposed to, you know, I’m a one trick pony, this is the way I do things, this is how I do it, this is the modality that I delivered through. So you’ve got to be able to do that switch. And you’ll actually be able to do that because the more calls you’re on and the more conversations you’re having, you’re going to find people who have been able to see it as an opportunity versus others who never will. And what pear stands for is pivot, align, resolve, execute. And so once you see it as an opportunity, you need to pivot in your mind, which means look, like I just took a left turn, and I’m not going directly towards where I used to go. So you have to that’s a pivot, as opposed to just spinning in your, you know, spinning in circles. And a line is after you pivot in your mind. And you say this is the direction we’re gonna take a line is okay, now how do I get everybody else to align with me? Because they’re scared. Many of them think they can’t learn new things, in our is resolve. And it’s actually it’s, it’s, it’s a double resolve. So, first of all, how do I resolve the conflict in my mind, so I can pivot? How do I let go of the other things that I need to let go of? I gotta let him go. And then resolve in the alignment, how do I get people to aligned and and commit to this, when they’re scared to let go of it. And then the other part of resolve is you need to have the resolve to put it into action, and he is executed. So can you can you understand that framework?
Will Bachman 49:06
I do. I like the acronym. And you know, a lot of us are probably going to have to pivot and realign as the world changes.
Mark Goulston 49:17
And the thing is, it’s normal if you’re listening in to feel anxiety about all of those things. And there’s a lot of people who say but you know, but this is the way I solve problems. Something else I would add, which a number of your people who are listening in have total ambivalence towards is design thinking. I love design thinking and any of you who are familiar with it, what I love about it is the first step in this various modifications and the first step to design thinking is empathize. And what empathize means is let go of how You solve problems and, and to quote the late Clayton Christensen really tune in on the problem to be solved from your your clients point of view and try to listen to them with a beginner’s mind. One of my favorite quotes, my last living mentor was Warren Bennis, big leadership guy. And I love Warren, I missed him every day. And he shared this quote that he got from Saul Bellow the playwright. What you want to become as a first class notice, and noticing is different than looking, watching and seeing, when you look watching, see you and your observer your passive, that noticing, you get connected to whatever you’re noticing. And I did a interview on my wake up call with Tim Brown, he’s the chair and former CEO for many years of idea. Sure. And I loved the interview. And I and he liked it enough, he put it up on his website and idea, if you look up Tim Brown, Mark Wilson, IDEO, you’ll see a link to it. And as I was talking to Tim, I said to him, you know, Tim, I just realized something about you. You’re a first class noticer. And, and also, if you’re listening in, you want to create relationships. Or if you give people an insight into themselves that they never would have known. You have a relationship for life. So I can go back to Tim Brown any time now? Because he never thought of it that way. Yeah, I’ve been a first class notice in my whole life, I never thought of it that way. So that’s another way to but you want to get my mind share from clients. Now, my clients tend to be decision makers. So I’m not. I’m a B, C suite level. And so whenever you can give them an insight into themselves, that helps them to be better and more effective. You always have a way back into that relationship.
Will Bachman 52:10
Well, I love that phrase, first class noticer. That is something to definitely aspire to as a as a professional, the first thing to do is to go and look at it. So Mark, I want to just, you know, say one more time, folks should check out your website. We’ll include that link in the show notes. Mark Olson Comm. This has been a fabulous discussion, talking about listening, talked about, you know, negotiating and about, you know, truly being present, listening with your eyes being and being noticer. Mark, thank you so much for taking the time and being on the show.
Mark Goulston 52:51
So I packed did I pass the McKinsey sniff test?
Will Bachman 52:55
Absolutely. Certainly Good.
Mark Goulston 52:59
Thank you. Thank you for having me on well, and please visit our site and in my new positions at Tonto capital in London. And I hope you’ll check that out or check me out on LinkedIn. And look, in this day and age. I’m happy to speak to anyone initially no charge, because at this stage of my life, I want to help good people land in their future. You know, the difference between a coach and a mentor is the coach tries to get performance out of you was a good mentor will drill down. And sometimes they’ll see a future for you that you don’t see. And a good mentor will do everything they can to help you land in your future. That’s why I missed all my seven mentors who have all passed away because that’s what they did with me.
Will Bachman 53:52
Well, I know that you are playing that role for a lot of people. And thank you for that offer. So we include that link in the show notes as well as your other various social media links to check out the show notes. Mark, thanks so much for joining.
Mark Goulston 54:06
Thank you Well and thank you, you. Take care