A Book Review


A Book Review

“Don’t ask the world to change….you change first.” – Anthony De Mello


Life is a constant and never ending learning process. As the legendary wizard of Westwood, John Wooden said, “when I am done learning, I am done.” We live in a world where communication is truly one of the most important skills we must continue to learn and relearn. Regardless our intelligence level and education, very few of us know how to communicate. Yes, we talk to each other. Or more often, we talk at each other. We are so busy striving to be interesting, we forget how to be interested. The paradox is that only when we are interested we can be interesting. Interested in others and interested in ourselves. From a point of reflection and curiosity. Without being interested, we cannot learn and hence we cannot be fully alive.

Once in a while a book comes along that makes us slow down, become introspective and thus, learn and transform. A book that propels us to take a moment to ponder how we see ourselves and others. A book that causes us to wake up to some valuable insights that can change us at work and in our lives over all. Such a book is Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston. Mark Goulston, M.D., is a business psychiatrist who over the past 30 years has worked with myriad companies teaching them listening skills to succeed in the marketplace and in personal lives. Some of the companies Dr. Goulston has worked with are, Xerox, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Bloomberg, Kodak, Bank of America.

Just Listen, foremost invites us to examine our own lives and our behaviors. To question our perceptions. How connected are we to others? Do we see them via our filters or do we actually see them as they are in their own humanity? Do we create value in our relationships, in our work places, in our organizations and our companies or do we get in our own way and hence sabotage moving forward? Do we touch other people or push them away? After all, a deal can only be made if we can relate to others since every deal has to do with people first.

“Most people upshift when they want to get through to other people. They persuade. They encourage. They argue. They push. And in the process, they create resistance. When you use the techniques I offer, you’ll do exactly the opposite – you’ll listen, ask, mirror, and reflect back to people what you’ve heard. When you do, they will feel seen, understood, and felt – and that unexpected downshift will draw them to you. “(p. 4, Just Listen, Mark Goulston)

Just Listen, asks us first to create awareness of who we are. To get through to others, we must learn first how to get through to ourselves. To do so, awareness of how our brains function is crucial. Most of us don’t realize how reactive we are instead of being receptive. “Amygdala hijack,” a term coined first by Daniel Goleman, the father of emotional intelligence, happens to all of us without exception. By understanding our three part brains, reptilian, mammal and primate. By learning to be attuned to ourselves and to others. Developing new tools to slow down or to avoid our reactive habits. By questioning ourselves. We can become fully present, interested in what is and creative with what will be. We can be a master of our emotions instead being ruled by them.

How often do we think of mirror neurons? How many of us are familiar with “mirror neuron receptor deficit”? If we are not mirrored, we are left with emptiness inside. Or some strange anxiety or a discomfort. We might go to a meeting with a client and regardless how prepared we are, if we are not able to mirror that client, we will loose that client. If we can’t let our client feel felt, we will never close this deal. With Just Listen, we can learn how we can make another feel understood just as we can understand ourselves better. Appreciating the mirroring process, implementing it in our lives, enables us to break any and every wall keeping us from success and peace.

Finding some error with others, takes much less work and much less courage than going within. Subsequently we tend to see ourselves differently from as others see us. How often our boss or our spouse yells at us and we see him as intimidating or scary? While in actuality, he feels small and powerless because we simply didn’t hear him. We didn’t feel him. So our husband bangs his head against the wall and yells out of his frustrations. “The greatest single cause of dissonance is the fact that people behave their worst when they feel most powerless.” (p. 79; Just Listen, Mark Goulston) By applying Dr. Goulston’s techniques, we can overcome most of dissonance. Dissonance is often the very gap between success and failure.

Reading Just Listen invites us also to rethink empathy. If we assigned a project to our teammate and this person is late or not focused executing her work, do we take time to ask and listen to what is going on in that person’s life? Do we have empathy for ourselves when we are under pressure or do we spin into amygdala hijack? What about when we are in conflict with our demanding client questioning us what he must do to get a purchase order filled while bullying us with his demands? “Do you really believe that?” is one of Mark’s tools which allows us to find out if there is a problem vs some hyperbole or to solve the problem, if there is one.

I invite you to pick up Dr. Goulston’s Just Listen and change your life. And if you are fully engaged with it, you will transform your life unequivocally both professionally and personally. Keep it on your nightstand or your desk, and read a few pages a day as a meditation. Read it slowly and ponder each page with your heart. Apply the lessons you learn and practice them to rewire your brain. Find courage to be vulnerable. Learn about other people who work with you. See them sans your filters. Learn how to deal with toxic or needy people. Develop skills of empathy, mirroring, connection, power thank you, power apology and most of all, learn to question and listen. After all, it is with deep listening we move from transactional approach to relating and relating is what we need most today, to succeed in all areas of our lives. It is time that our world can be a meeting point and not just a preaching point as in the words of Mother Teresa. Just Listen transforms us and the world we live in.

Just Listen. Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone By Mark Goulston AMACOM – American Management Association – copyright

2010 Mark Goulston

This review was originally published in the Women in Parking Newsletter.

Astrid Ambroziak is editor of
Parknews.biz. She can be reached at astrid@parkingtoday.com.

Article contributed by:
Astrid Ambroziak
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