Okay, I’m listening…who wouldn’t want to gain the skill of getting through to absolutely anyone? In his book, Just Listen, Mark Goulston, psychiatrist, consultant, and business coach, walks the reader through some helpful strategies when working (or living) with others.
In a nutshell, we all encounter people in our daily lives who, well, drive us crazy. Sometimes it may feel like we just can’t move forward with work or home projects and we may blame other people in our lives for the stall.
Just Listen hits the ground running by describing a fictional hostage situation and drawing parallels between hostage negotiations and our everyday exchanges with family and co-workers. Goulston urges readers to identify the people who they are trying to persuade. As the author so eloquently puts it, “You probably don’t find yourself in the types of situations that hostage negotiators handle. But on any given day, who are you trying to persuade to do something? The answer is: nearly everybody you meet.”
Hrm. Everybody? Nearly everybody. Take an inventory of your current projects, how many other people are involved? How many people have you tried to persuade to do something today?
The book maps out specific strategies for handling a variety of conflict situations. One of the over-reaching themes, when entering any of these situations, is empathy. Empathy is what connects us, helps us share the feelings of others. Understanding where another person is coming from is the key to moving forward. Part of increasing empathy is being interested in others.
Just Listen cautions readers, “Don’t just act interested. Be interested.” I believe this is a common problem. Who has not been on the phone with a customer service rep who insisted that they really cared about your issue, when the tone of their voice betrayed the utter annoyance they truly felt? Or, conversely, who has not had a boring conversation with a forgettable person?
In order to tap into your creative and interested mind, the author advises that you, “Go into the conversation knowing that there is something very interesting about the person, and be determined to discover it.”
Interested? (Okay, that was corny). Check out Just Listen by Mark Goulston.