Episode: 522 |
Listening Secrets Every Consultants Should Know:


Listening Secrets Every Consultants Should Know

Show Notes

Oscar Trimboli is the author of How to Listen and the host of the podcast Deep Listening. He talks about the importance of listening in the context of an initial discussion with a client, and highlights the importance of being present and mindful in the conversation, and to focus on understanding the other person’s perspective. Oscar stresses the need to be aware of underlying emotions, and to be patient and respectful during the conversation. He concludes that having an open dialogue and listening to the other person’s point of view is paramount to building a strong relationship and achieving successful outcomes. Oscar talks about the importance of listening during the context call with a client on their project. He emphasizes that listening should not be limited to face-to-face conversation but should include pre- and post- conversation activities as well. As an example, he mentioned his own pre-interview question to the client about the audience in attendance. Oscar suggests three questions to ask prior to entering the room. By posing these questions, you can gain a better understanding of the client’s needs and desires and be better equipped to lead the conversation. Oscar explains how to best approach a context conversation for a potential project by asking these three questions, which should include the characteristics of a great listener: curiosity, flexibility and openness. 

In email introductions, Oscar explains how to add three bullet points to an email introducing the project, which should include mentioning three common issues the project may have, and how to refer to these issues to position yourself as knowledgeable while also gaining information. These questions can also position you as a problem solver and not just as a gaining a client for your business. 


The Importance of Listening to what Is not Said

In order to be a great listener, one must understand the science and art of conversation. Oscar talks about the importance of listening and the gap between thinking speed and speaking speed. Oscar suggests that we should be conscious of what is not being said in a conversation and offers some ways to self-assess. An effective listener should focus on both what is being said and what is not being said. A speaker typically speaks at 125-150 words per minute, but can think in a range of 900-1600 words per minute whereas you can listen up to 400 words per minute. Paying attention to what the speaker hasn’t said can help create a more meaningful conversation and create a more positive experience for the client. As a result, referrals should increase as clients feel heard and valued.

What to Avoid When Mirroring Clients

Oscar talks about the best way to ask questions when trying to understand a project from a client’s perspective and the importance of mirroring the client’s specific language and vocabulary during a meeting. He suggests that the consultant should be careful and cautious when using language related to the future, as the client may not be able to believe in such a distant vision. He also suggests calibrating the language to the client’s time horizon and paying attention to the type of language the client is using. For example, are they speaking in stories or statistics? Are they big picture or linear? The consultant should be matching the client’s level of abstraction in order to have a successful conversation.

Oscar highlights the importance of using mental models to recognize code words, and listening to different perspectives. He expands on the advisor’s role, giving an example with a client he worked with in the pharmaceutical industry to demonstrate gaps in listening and understanding, which degraded performance. 


How to Improve Listening and Comprehension in a Meeting

To improve listening, Oscar introduces the 70/70s squared approach, where roughly 70% of the way through a meeting, a person can ask a question to understand what has been heard. He offered a few variations of this question, like asking to summarize the last 30 minutes or asking what questions the CEO would ask if they were in the room. Ultimately, these questions help people to step back and rethink their approach, considering the perspectives of people in authority or in other areas of the business.

Following Up after the Meeting

Oscar stresses the importance of being mindful of how one takes notes during a meeting and the purpose behind it. He suggests that it may be beneficial to record the conversation and to state your actions clearly. After the meeting, it is important to generate artifacts such as what happened in the conversation and supplemental materials. Within 24 hours, it is beneficial to ask the client if anything has popped up since the conversation or if anything was not covered during the meeting. 

To follow up after a meeting,  Will suggests sending a recap email as a way to show that the listener was paying attention and to provide a summary of the discussion. Oscar adds that, if the listener has paid attention to the other person’s communication preferences, they could send a video or voice memo as an additional way to demonstrate understanding and increase the shareability of the summarised information and progress the complex ideas faster in the organisation. He talks about the benefits of thinking about how you communicate and not just what you communicate and talks about methods used in his own consulting practice. Finally, Oscar offers three valuable tips to improve listening and communication skills. 



03:51 Exploring the Benefits of Pre-Meeting Questions for Effective Listening
09:01 Frictionless Scheduling: Making it Easier for Clients to Say Yes
09:52 Adopting a New Email Response Protocol

10:54 Understanding the Neuroscience of Conversation
14:41 Listening to What Is Not Said
20:23 Mirroring Client Language
25:09 Listening and Mental Models
25:36 Exploring Unheard Perspectives

28:56 Asking Questions to Understand What Has Been Heard
36:40 After the Meeting Actions and Artifacts


Online Quiz: ListeningQuiz.com


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Oscar Trimboli


Oscar Trimboli, Will Bachman


Will Bachman  00:01

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman, you can visit Unleashed at umbrex.com/unleashed to sign up for the weekly email, view the transcripts of this and all previous episodes. I’m excited to be here today with Oscar Trimboli, who is joining me from Australia at 6am His time. So that’s amazing. Oscar is the author of How to listen. And he is also the host of a podcast deep listening. I’m so thrilled we’re going to talk about listening, obviously, Oscar, welcome to the show.


Oscar Trimboli  00:36

Good, I will looking forward to listening to your questions.


Will Bachman  00:39

Alright. So what I thought we could do to really make this specific is to get into listening in the context of an initial discussion with a client when you’ve about a particular project, right. So when you’re in the door, maybe you’ve exchanged emails, maybe you’ve been referred or introduced. So the client, it’s not an initial pitch, whether you’re just talking about your firm, but there is some project in the table, David hayfields, causes a context discussion. And I wanted to talk with you about the context of listening in that scenario. So first, let me you know, get your initial reactions to that topic for today.


Oscar Trimboli  01:24

One of the first things you want to be conscious of is that, for that context, call listening happens before, during and after the conversation, a lot of people get obsessed with that moment, when you’re in contact and face to face with the client. You’re missing a number of listening opportunities, if all you’re doing is turning up in that moment and having a conversation. So when we initially booked this interview, for example, the first question I asked you will was who’s in your audience? And your, your reply to me was, oh, wow, you’re already listening. The point is listening happens before you get into that dialogue. So think about how you can make that a ramp into the face to face or the virtual video conversation, rather than only a conversation. So often, a simple set of questions I’ll give you three that you can pose before you get into the room will change the way the speaker communicates their ID, the prospective client. So a question you might simply ask them is what will make this a good conversation? Be careful, then say what would make this a good conversation for you. Because one of the things we want to be conscious of as the leader in the room, you need to be making sure you’re progressing the dialogue, not just what the client is saying. And we’ll get a bit into that later on. So question number one, what will make this a great meeting for you? Question number two, how have projects like this played out before? And question number three? will be how long? Have you been working on this project as an example? Now, this is helping them know that before you get in the room, you have the three characteristics of great or listeners. So when we’ve researched over 26,000, workplace listeners, and what they have in common is curiosity, flexibility and openness. And that’s that curiosity them. So we’ll even before you get in the room for the context conversation, you can be listening. So I’m curious, before we get in the room, what’s going through your mind as you hear that?


Will Bachman  03:51

I love these questions. I particularly so and I want to clarify, I want to I’ll do my little listening my question for you. So would you. So let’s say it’s some project, a strategy project, we need some help on strategy for this chain of dental clinics? I don’t know. So someone’s reached out to and we referred you perhaps as like, hey, Jane, please meet my friend. Well, he can help you on this strategy project we’ve been introduced and Jane says great. So normally what I would do in that and I want to really double click on this and get it very fun, I get an introduction. I would normally just reply and say something like, Oscar, thanks so much for the introduction, shifting you to BCC to save your inbox. And I’d say Jane, we could certainly help with this project. We’d like to start with a short context discussion to make sure we understand, you know, the, you know, the background and what sort of consulting you’re looking for. You know, Would you be open to a short discussion? Uh, please let me know a time that works for you or if easier you can pick Tommy my Calendly. So that’s what I normally do. So you’re asking a couple additional questions, would you put those in that email? Are you expecting the person to reply? Or are you saying, Hey, these are things that I’d like to cover in that session?


Oscar Trimboli  05:16

I loving that we’re getting into the specificity of so few conversations I have with podcast hosts to get into this level of detail. And this is where the gold is. So one of the things, if you are the expert in the field of adjusting the way a dental practice goes to market, you should know the three common issues that they’re going to be dealing with. So I would just add on to that email that you sent. Hey, Jane, when we work with clients like yours, typical problems are one, two, and three, and yours could be completely different. I’m curious which one of those it might be Now, whether they answer or respond, doesn’t matter. What you’re already doing is trying to position yourself completely different from anybody else. What you’re signaling to them is, one, you’ve worked with other people in the industry. And if you haven’t, maybe you’ve worked with other medical professionals, and you know, this problem. So every email is an opportunity to collect some additional piece of insight. Don’t miss that opportunity. If you’re not sending an email with a question, you’re probably missing an opportunity there. So sometimes we go haha, look, I don’t even know them. Why? Why would I be asking these pre emptive questions? Isn’t that a bit arrogant? Isn’t that a bit of an assumption? Well, the reason we want to ask these questions as early as possible is this. We want to solve the client’s problem. But not in all cases, can we solve it, you may want to figure out really quickly that the kind of problem they want to solve, you need to refer to somebody else all together be a problem solver, not just somebody who’s trying to make a transaction for that client? How would that question and those three bullet points sit in an email you might send out? Well,


Will Bachman  07:22

so I would have a slightly different approach. And it might be just because of the type of firm that I run, which is my own business. Umbrex is helping clients find the right independent consultant for a project, rather than being that actual expert myself, who’s going to be the one doing it. So I would probably personally, I would typically not do something like that of saying, you know, hey, in situations like this, you know, here’s three things we typically see are not so much, because I feel it would be presumptuous, but more my psychology thinking here is that I want to make it as frictionless as possible to get to the next stage that I want, which is I want to have that call, I want to have that meeting with the person. And I want to like, remove any possible barriers and making it easy as frictionless as possible for them to say, yes, yeah, let’s hop on a call on Thursday at 4pm. Right? And just get to that stage and not like make them think, oh, geez, he’s given me these three things like, because when I, if, if I’ve been referred, and the person has already said, yeah, like to meet with you, then I’ve passed the bar of getting to that meeting, and we just have to schedule it. Whereas if it was someone who’s more like, thinking about, is this person the right fit or not, they’re not yet committed to the meeting, then I’d have to try to express a bit more credibility. I’m kind of past the point of approving credibility, if I’m already about to get the meeting. So that that’s kind of the difference.


Oscar Trimboli  09:01

Yeah. And do you think your approach about being frictionless is about you or them?


Will Bachman  09:08

Well, I think it’s about good question. I’d say it’s about them. Because I’m thinking it from their perspective. They already are, if they’re already willing to meet with me, then I’m trying to be respectful of their time and not, like, make additional barriers. I want to make it as easy as possible for them to say, Sure, let’s meet and I generally find that it’s easier for people to give me a seven minute download on a zoom versus taking seven minutes to write an email and put their thoughts together. It’s usually easier for people just to talk through than to try to put it all in an email. So


Oscar Trimboli  09:45

and we’ll just speculate there may be a subset of clients who would be comfortable replying to an email,


Will Bachman  09:52

some would. I think that I have thought about adopting my email a little bit, which is I haven’t done this but it just occurred to me over the past few days of changing my normal response, which is more like giving people an expectation of what I’d like to cover in that in that meeting, which I haven’t done in the past, which is, hey, in that meeting, what I’m going to ask you is the following set of questions. And it’s probably easier for you to give me a verbal download than to email me. But here’s what I’m going to ask, which is, I’d love to understand what’s the context? No, why are you looking for some outside help now? And why now? What’s changed? When you’re looking to get started? What’s sort of the ideal profile of the person you’re looking for? And I’m going to ask you some specifics around this is going to be on site or remote, and, and so forth. And in how you envision the project going, and what kind of outcomes you’re looking for. So I might start giving that kind of people a preview of what I’m going to ask. So they know I’m good not going to waste their time, and but not expecting them to give me an answer.


Oscar Trimboli  10:54

Yes, exactly. And with the clients, I work with the majority of people not reply to the email. But when you step into the room, the first thing they say is, wow, those questions that I’ve been thinking about them since you sent that email. And for the majority of us, the conversation starts, before we walk in the room, if all we do is say, hey, let’s schedule a calendar, Lee Lincoln, let’s set up a context meeting. Awesome, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to save them time, what we want to do is land in their subconscious. And get them thinking about it before you walk in the room. Because a good listener will listen to what they say, a great listener will change the way they express the idea. And that is all part of the setup. So listening happens before, during and after the conversation. Let’s zoom into the room, though. Well, let’s have that conversation. In terms of the context. Here’s a critical piece of neuroscience, let’s call it the science of listening versus the art of listening. These three numbers are critical to understand the speaker and the listener are in a dance in the conversation, they change positions, sometimes they’re the speaker, sometimes they’re the listener, you may think of it as a simultaneous equation in maths. And here’s the numbers that are really critical, because a good listener will focus on what they say, and a great listener will notice what they haven’t said. And when you notice what they haven’t said, you will be working on bigger problem sets, you will make more transformational shift for your clients, and your referral rate will go up because they say, look, will didn’t just listen to what I said. He saw me, he heard me he valued me. And he helped me express an idea that had been sitting in the back of my mind for quite a long time. For three numbers that if you know these three numbers, you’ll be very comfortable listening carefully to what they haven’t said. So the speaker speaks at about 125 to 150 words per minute. Yet they can think in a range from 900 to 1600 words per minute, I speculate the kind of clients you work with will get closer to the 1600 words per minute than the 900. That means the first thing they say it’s between five and 14% of what they think and what they mean. Why would you gamble your time, just in that dialogue with what they’re saying the first time, it’s like somebody said, pressing send on an email they just wrote without reviewing it, drafting it and sending it again. Now this massive gap between our thinking speed and our speaking speed typically means that we need to be careful about how we are listening. Now that 400 here is you can listen it up to 400 words per minute. So you’re bored, distracted, you’re solving you’re anticipating when the speaker is speaking because they’re speaking at 125 words a minute, you can listen at 400 words a minute. So there’s a 300 word per minute gap. And that is when you need to start to notice what they’re not saying. Now, well, how conscious are you about noticing what isn’t said in a conversation?


Will Bachman  14:41

I’m not sure how to rate my ability. I’m telling me Tell me about I mean I probably somewhat aware but but tell me some ways that I could self assess.


Oscar Trimboli  14:54

Well, again, think about in that moment while somebody’s saying something. Are you going yep I know the exact consultant they need. They’ve worked on these projects before thinking about their availability. If they roll off that project, then then that’ll be good timing. I hope they about two months out, because that’ll be perfect. Right? Is that what typically might be going on? In your mind? Based on what you said? Originally?


Will Bachman  15:18

No. My superpower if I have one is I don’t mind appearing to be an idiot, and asking super naive questions. So I’m almost the opposite of what you were suggesting. I’m much more three


Oscar Trimboli  15:35

super nice questions. Sound like?


Will Bachman  15:39

Yeah, so I’d be so typical questions that I’d be like, are. Okay, help me understand how you would think about this, you know, this project being done? I mean, different people would approach this broad project in different ways. But what’s, what’s your mental model of how, how this would happen? Right? So that that would be one. Another one would be, okay, let’s say that we were at the end of this project. It was complete, it was successful, you got exactly what you need it or exceeded it? What does that look like for you? Like, what either is the deliverable you have in your lap? Or what’s the change that you’ve seen in your company? Tell me about that. Describe that world for me? And I mean, and then one would be, Okay, I think I have the context. Now you’ve walked me through it? What are you thinking about? What would be the ideal skill set of the person? I’d love to have you walk me through that? And then once we kind of go through the ideal industry, background, functional background, etc? Then help me prioritize? And what are the must haves in your view? And what are the, you know, maybe one of the nice to haves? So I’m kind of the opposite of that, like knowing the answer, I’m always trying to truly assume that I don’t know inside their head and getting them to articulate it. Because if they can tell you what they’re looking for, it makes it a lot easier to deliver.


Oscar Trimboli  17:08

I’m curious about the phrase helped me understand is, is that deliberate language helped me understand?


Will Bachman  17:17

I think so. To the extent that I can do to the extent that I’m mindful of it, I try to avoid yes, no questions. Yeah, I’ll ask in some cases, tell me a story about tell me more about helped me understand would be one of my catchphrases. Hey, walk me through this process end to end as you see it. You know, like having people articulate that. I don’t understand that. Tell me little bit more about that catchphrases. phrases that are open ended enough that get people to continue to talk because, you know, people say one thing, and then you asked them to, why is that a go a little bit deeper? And then go a little bit deeper again. And that’s when you really start to hear, you know, what’s really on their mind?


Oscar Trimboli  18:10

Yeah, and you think the balance of your questions and more about from present to future? What percent of your time do you think your unpicking the past?


Will Bachman  18:21

For me? I mean, I’ll throw this in here. I’m curious to hear your reaction doesn’t exactly answer your question. Get to it. But um, in terms of time allocation, I don’t maybe unpack the past too much. I will ask usually, what have you done so far? And why do you feel you need to get outside support? Alright, because normally, it just makes more sense to do it with your own employees, right? Like, I mean, a consultant might assume, of course, he should use consultants. But there’s usually a reason that companies don’t use, you know, are going to external support. So try to understand that. But one thing we’ll maybe just throw in here is the 7030 squared rule, which is curious if you think this is about right. Or if you need some different numbers. 7030 squared rule is in a conversation with the client, in this kind of conversation, Discovery call context discussion, that sort of meeting. The client should be speaking 70% of the time, and we should be speaking 30% of the time, and 70% of what of the time we’re speaking should be questions. So only 30% of 30% Should it be us kind of stating our point of view or our background, because, frankly, our case studies are kind of boring. People like talking about their, you know, they are boring. People like talking about their problems, not hearing about your case studies. So 7030 squared rule. I have a question for you. Actually. Let me turn around. One thing that you didn’t talk about yet as and it may be it’s part of that phase of listening before the actual meeting, but it’s also during the meeting is mirroring the call lines specific vocabulary and language. So they might be referring to their problem using one set of vocabulary. And maybe you normally refer to that something else. But like adopting their language when you speak with them about what’s your point of view about that?


Oscar Trimboli  20:23

As an industry consultants, that you’ve described a very future focus. So one of the parts of mirroring, you would typically want to be very cautious about is the obsession with the future, that’s fine. Looking forward, we can do this. And in 12 months time, all of those things, a lot of client insight, in the way they use language is they’re either stuck in the past, they’re very much in the present, or they do talk about the future. So calibrate your language to their time horizon. Because if you’re asking a set of questions about the future, and they are still stuck in a problem set, or a project failure from two, three years ago, that they fully haven’t understood why that project failed in the context of their system, their organization, you may be painting a future vision that’s far too distant for them to be able to go, I can credibly believe that’s happening. So when you think about a vocabulary matching, think about the time why you are expressing an id be careful, sometimes you may be a little too far ahead of the client. So calibrate, dial in to where they’re using language around time, as an example, the other heuristic to use and you can pick this up really quickly. Are they speaking and stories or statistics? Are they big picture? Or are they sequential and linear, you need to be matching at that abstraction as well. Not just the pace at which they speak or the slowness of which they speak or the extent to which they may pause. So you need to become conscious when you’re listening. You need to listen not just to what is being said the content, you need to listen to how they’re expressing the idea. earlier on. Well, you mentioned mental models. And there are some code words that can point to the mental models, if you listen carefully, they fit into the word set called absolutes. When they say words like always, never exactly precisely. These are some code words that you go on. This is the edge of their mental model. I was working with a client in professional services, and they were running the business development and of the organization. They had 60 staff, and they were so frustrated with their public sector division. And my client said, public sector, they always slow in procurement, they never grow. It’s a waste of time, we should shut down the division and sell it to somebody else. And all I reflected back to her in that moment was always and then she smiled back at me and she said, Well, not always but mostly, I said, Okay, who’s the exception to the rule? And she said, Well, there’s three customers in public sector that do grow. I said, Okay. I said, What are they have in common? And she said, three characteristics that that were commercially orientated, that a performance culture, and the third thing was about their measurement systems. I said, sounds like they should be in the commercial division. She goes, Oh my God, that’s something we haven’t even thought about. And in that moment, because she used the word always I knew I’d touch the edge of her mental model. And my job wasn’t to say, Oh, you’re wrong, like what situations is always because there’s no absolutes. When we’re dealing with humans and professional services. There’s always exceptions. And in that moment, for me matching her language, precisely but not interpreting, and just simply saying the absolute back to her richer discussion emerge. Now, one, the clock forward 12 months later, when their new planning cycle came about, they move those three clients and two years later, they got Much more growth out of them because they treated them like commercial clients rather than public sector clients. So that’s where you need the language matching. Well,


Will Bachman  25:09

I love the fact that you shared that story. What it sounds to me like the lesson from that is, there are certain code words you should be aware of and listening to, and not necessarily challenged them. But you should come up short and maybe query certain code words, tell me if there’s sort of other expand on that a little bit.


Oscar Trimboli  25:36

Oh, as as you mentioned earlier, the client can see as their current context, your role as the advisor is to create perspectives they haven’t considered in the moment. So I was working with a pharmaceutical organization. And it was a roomful of very qualified chemistry experts, PhDs in chemistry, Master’s in chemistry, mechanical and electrical engineers, they were running a very complex manufacturing site. But impurities were emerging in the production line, which meant batches were needing to be thrown out and batches were 3 million, 4 million $5 million. They weren’t passing QA. But this was happening infrequently. And the CEO brought me in, and there’s 93 people in a room, these are all the leaders around this production side. And we we had the setup. And they said, Okay, ask us to run the next part of this session. And I simply asked the group to turn to each other and tell them who they were not listening to on the production line. And what we’re doing there is creating a very external perspective for them. It’s also a way of double clicking on what’s not being heard in the system. So I said, Who are we not listening to. And eventually, we did a roll up in the room. And it was very clear, we weren’t talking to frontline production people. And I was there for a whole day in the workshop, I said, Great. Your job now is to get out of this room and go and talk to those production people. They went and talked to the production people, there was something on daily control board, which is their way of managing quality from a year and a half ago, where a frontline worker had said a pipe needs replacing on the production line, and they didn’t want to stop the production line. They were running at full capacity. And it was a $60 pipe to fix it up and put it in everyone came back in the room. They said oh, it’s the pipe. The pipe, a $60 pipe was causing millions of dollars of wasted production in that moment. The questions you want to be asking are creating perspectives that they’re not common to. So an example might be I’m curious what the regulator in your industry might say, if they were listening to our conversation. If we’re had the competitor listening to our conversation right now, what would they be laughing about? Because we haven’t discussed and all of a sudden you move their focus away from the project to the bigger systemic context that connects you with bigger, more transformational work as a consultant. So create questions and perspectives that draw them out, not necessarily into the distant future, because some people might not be able to process that. But just beyond their current context.


Will Bachman  28:56

I love that idea of asking who we are not listening to. And, and the and there’s other ones do great. What are the regulators say? What would your competitors think? Beautiful?


Oscar Trimboli  29:08

Imagine you’re in a one hour meeting or not, you could be in a half an hour meeting roughly 70% of the way through the meeting. This is a question that all my clients go wow, Oscar when I use this question. It helps me understand what they have heard, not just the questions I’ve asked. So I’ll give you a couple of variations of this. If you’re following the 7070s squared. Approach, pose it as a question. If not, you can ask a simple question. The simple question might be, well, how would you summarize the last 30 minutes to your manager and all of a sudden you will hear what they heard, not what you said. And you’ll hear more importantly, what they haven’t heard in what you’ve said. Now, the other way I asked this question is I will, I’m curious, we’ve got a few minutes before we draw too close. If your CEO was in the room right now, what’s the question? They always ask that we haven’t covered off? And they always step back and go, Oh, that’s a really good question. You know, what? Actually, there’s a code word for you, by the way, that’s actually is a code word, that they’re rethinking their approach. They’ll say, actually, she always says, X Y, Zed, and we haven’t covered it off, can we spend our remaining time on that? Sure, of course, because you know, the person in front of you has to essentially go to someone in authority. Or you could ask that same question about the CFO, or the head of engineering, or head of customer contact, anything in your system, these take them out of the context of the conversation we’ve had, and draws them into the biggest system in which we need to operate. And in doing so, we can hear what’s not said.


Will Bachman  31:22

You know, I want to react to that was just an idea that occurred to me, you know, part of that sort of 96%, or something in my brain while while you’re talking. Which is just an idea. I’m sorry, it’s not a question for you. But when, you know, sometimes, members of the show consultants, you know, any professional will do be doing more of a ketchup call with someone, right? And where you might be hoping to plant the seed that, even if they don’t have a project, that you’re hoping that they would mention you to someone else. So I love your thinking about what would you say to your manager? A variation of that would be, hey, if you were talking with someone a month from now, and we’re going to describe to them my practice, how would you articulate what I do? So that that white,


Oscar Trimboli  32:12

the white of the white a flip that because that’s all about you? Yeah, well, true. Yeah, um, so just just flip it slightly and go. Describe the problem that we solved?


Will Bachman  32:28

Sure, sure. That’s, that’s if it’s like you’ve served a client, but I was thinking more like, Hey, if you’re just chatting with someone that you know, right, like a professional contact, catching up with them. Yeah. And so like, you haven’t served them as a client? And they’re like, Yeah, sure. I’ll make sure I mentioned you if someone comes along, and then you say, Oh, how would you articulate what I do. And then, and then like to make sure that they are explaining what you do in the way that you hoped that they would, or maybe they totally, you know, misinterpreted, or, you know, to your point about what was not said, you hear kind of their version of it, I want to turn to part three. So of the of the discussion, you mentioned about the before, the during and the listening after. Let’s let’s turn back to that context discussion. So tell me about listening after.


Oscar Trimboli  33:16

So think carefully about number one note taking during the meeting, make sure you are clear about how and when you’re taking notes and the purpose of note taking. And for some clients, they’re actually happy to have the conversation recorded, that this plays into after the meeting. If you think you can’t listen after the meeting, take an action during the meeting and don’t deliver on it and the client will think you never listen. So be careful to confirm in the moment during the discussion when you take an action, what action you’re taking. And say it out loud, just to confirm the action I’m going to take is because you want to make sure they hear what you’ve said. So if there’s an adjustment or a correction, we can make it in the moment. So the setup for after the meeting is really crucial. After the meeting, you will generate a set of artifacts and they may be what happened in the conversation. This may be supplemental materials and maybe case studies that you kind of giggled about earlier on how boring they will then make sure that after the meeting within 24 hours, again, pose a question back and the way we’ve worked with our clients that this is and that depends on the level of the relationship. And I’ll give you a few variants on this. Typically when you have 24 hours to sleep on it. There are some other things that pop up for you how Anything pop up? Since our conversation yesterday. Most clients get a, not much about a third of our clients get some additional insight. Now, one of one of my clients, phrases that this way, typically you need 24 hours. But more importantly, when you’re in the shower, an idea pops to mind about what we didn’t cover off. What was it? Now, they’re in the creative industry, so they can use that kind of language in professional services. And it’s a common metaphor for idea generation in that industry. So be careful with that one. Finally, just the act of you asking them Have you thought anything more about it will give you another opportunity to hear some things that may not have popped up. Or more importantly, if they’re doing a beauty parade, something may pop up that another provider has asked that you didn’t ask. So that gives you an opportunity to answer that question as well. So when it comes to after the meeting, it’s a given that you’re going to do your actions, it’s a given you’re going to send artifacts, it’s given you’re going to send case studies. Yet the most important thing you can ask them is anything else that’s come up that we didn’t discuss, giving you have had some time to sleep on it.


Will Bachman  36:40

One simple thing is also to and this is, you know, maybe even a pre artifact is sending a recap email afterwards, I tried to do this. I’m not always the best at it. But I try where it’s just like, Hey, just wanted to recap our discussion. And this is kind of showing that you were listening, right? Like, here’s the points we’ve covered. Here’s what I agreed to do. And and here’s what you said that you were going to do, right? You said you would like send me the, you know, the last strategy document you had from two years ago or whatever. And I’m going to put together a proposal. And you know, here’s the key points, as I understand it. So you mentioned that, here’s the situation, here’s here’s what you’re working on, here’s what you’re hoping to accomplish. Did I did I capture that correctly? Right? What’s your reaction to something like that? Not a day later, but just within the next hour after the call?


Oscar Trimboli  37:29

Yeah. Yeah, sorry, I will just assume that’s table stakes that everybody who’s selling time is going to be doing this. Here’s the bonus point for that one. If you have been noticing their communication preference, you may record that as a voice memo, you may record that as a video, you may not send that as an email.


Will Bachman  37:56

I would not. So if


Oscar Trimboli  37:57

you’ve been listening carefully enough, you could literally record that in the car at the end of the meeting, and send it to them straight away. And that is a different level of listening. I was working with a vice president once and I said to her, what’s your what’s your communication preference? She goes, I get emails all day, every day, Oscar, here’s my mobile, just text me. I will reply to a text within an hour. But don’t waste my time. And no problem. So all I did was type in a text summary of a meeting I attended and said, I just need you to be aware that we need to make a decision on this. I didn’t ask her to make the decision on the on the text message. That because I asked the question about her communication preference. All of a sudden, we have a different level of communication that takes place.


Will Bachman  39:02

I would not have thought of I have not tried the idea of doing a voice memo or a video right? I guess a selfie video and sending that. I haven’t I would not have thought of that. Tell me about your experience or you know people’s how people have responded to that. How would you even know Do you want me to send you a video of myself? Tell me about that.


Oscar Trimboli  39:27

It’s again, this back to the question about communication preference. So you’ll notice that people who like visuals probably going to get up on a whiteboard and use a marker pen as an example. So create something that’s graphical or visual as an artifact rather than exclusively techspace because that’s our communication preference, or it’s the least friction for us the bonus by creating this artifact that’s distinct different, unique differentiated is that increases its share ability. So often, they will forward this to other people who weren’t present in the meeting, and go, ah, have a listen to this, or watch this. The reason you do it, of course, is to create a summary. But if you’re communicating something that’s a complex idea, which most of you listening in your consultant work is you’re trying to simplify the complex. This artifact, if you increase share ability, you will progress the idea faster in the organization as well.


Will Bachman  40:42

I am having some strong flashbacks right now, Oscar, when I started at McKinsey, which was in 2001, it was right at the tail end of the voicemail era at McKinsey. So like the people had just been started to issue cell phones, we didn’t have blackberries yet, and voicemails, were we there was no email on phones, right? So voicemails were the preferred method of communicating with the partners. And we actually had training on how to do a voicemail. So as business analysts, we would practice a voicemail, at least I would three or four or five times until you got it just right. So it was like less than 60 seconds. So you could summarize everything for the partner of where the progress was, and you’d send it off. And it was like pre email, air almost pre email, and your email on your desktop. So you’re bringing us back to 2001.


Oscar Trimboli  41:37

Yeah, I look everybody in their hand and their cell phone is a movie studio, radio studio. And that communication modality, create positioning for you as a consultant. If your consultancy is all about difference, then why you’re always sending email because everybody’s doing that. Think about how you communicate as much as what you communicate. And you will occupy a different space in your clients mind about the kind of problems that it is possible to solve. Together.


Will Bachman  42:15

I love that. I want we have talked about listening in general, but I’d love to hear a bit about your practice. You’ve you’ve mentioned, you’ve alluded several times to clients you’ve served. But tell us about your consulting practice you.


Oscar Trimboli  42:31

Look, my consulting practice is very different from a decade ago, when I started it today, we have a series of tools for clients to self assess themselves around their listening, progress, or lack of it. And we’ve had nearly 26,000 of our clients take the assessment. We’ve also got a well known jigsaw puzzle exercise that kind of blows people’s mind about how a jigsaw puzzle game is like taking a client brief or the context conversation as we refer to it here. We’ve got podcast series where we’ve interviewed over 100 of the world’s most diverse all listening professionals, from submarine commanders, to sonar operators, to dolphin trainers, all the way through to hostage negotiators, journalist, deaf blind people. And everything in between. We’ve created a series of practice cards for people to embed their learning afterwards. And as a result, I probably spend about a third of my time authoring that’s either podcasts, books, or speaking from stage. Our third is delivering workshops physically and virtually. And the rest of my time is spent reading academic literature about listening to make sure I’m staying up with the latest information around the world. And at the moment, will one of the things I’m experimenting with this a number of people who are reaching out to me and go, How do I license your stuff into my programs? i My goal is to be the Intel inside of leadership programs because everybody talks about listening but nobody explains how to do it. So that’s how the practice is structured.


Will Bachman  44:47

What are two or three points about listening that you hope listeners take away or that maybe we read that we didn’t cover that we should have? What are the two or three things that everyone should know about listening.


Oscar Trimboli  45:02

Number one, if all you’re doing is listening to what people say you’re missing 80% of the conversation. Great listeners listen to what’s not said. Great listeners know how to listen before, during and after the conversation. And three tips to increase your listening productivity before you go into any conversation is managing notifications, electronic or otherwise. And be careful a lot of us were connected watches these days. That’s the new distraction. Number two, make sure you drink a glass of water before we go into a conversation and drink a glass of water right what all 30 minutes in a conversation and offer that to your guest. And tip number three is Be conscious of your breathing. But even more importantly, be conscious of the breathing of the people you’re speaking to. If you can prepare to listen and know that the most important person you need to listen to first is yourself. Then you’ll have a great listening platform.


Will Bachman  46:06

Now ask her I believe that you have a self diagnostic quiz for people to test their listening and see what their opportunities are to grow. Should tell us about that.


Oscar Trimboli  46:18

Yeah, please visit listening quiz.com If you want to learn about the full barriers that get in the way, when it comes to your listening, you’ll get a five page report that explains the barriers and more importantly, three tailored tips based on your primary and secondary listening barrier. practical things that you can do during a conversation I


Will Bachman  46:44

love that we will include that link in the show notes so you can click on it listeners but that’d be listening quiz.com Oscar, this was a fantastic conversation I enjoyed so much. Hearing your tips and some of these are gold. I’m gonna have to listen to the show again because I don’t think I captured all of them. But I love the thing about Who are we not listening to reach slips it? So many great tips. Oscar, thank you so much for joining today.


Oscar Trimboli  47:12

Thanks for listening. We’ll see

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