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Synopsis of Just Listen

By Mark Goulston

Chapter 2: How the Brain Goes from "No" to "Yes"

  • Mirror neurons

Chapter 5: Make the Other Person Feel Felt

  • Making someone "feel felt" simpy means putting yourself in the other person's shoes.

Chapter 6: Be More Interested Than Interesting

  • Think of those holiday letters. How does it make you feel when someone just talks about themselves?
  • Don't just act interested — be interested.
  • Stop thinking of a conversation as a tennis match. Go into a conversation knowing that there is something very interesting about the person, and be determined to discover it.
  • Ask questions that demonstrate that you want to know more. "How'd you get into what you do?", "What do you like best about it?", "Why is that important to you?"
  • Similarly, in personal relationships, questions like these can often trigger a heartfelt response: "What's the best (or worst) part of (coaching, being away from home, etc.)?", "What person has had the biggest influence on your life?", etc.
  • One of the best ways to get through to a powerful person is to be the first one to ask a question after the person speaks to a large audience. The audience will appreciate your courage at being the one to break the ice and the speaker will appreciate you for starting the ball rolling with a good question and for preventing the awkward pause that can occur when there's a call for questions and nobody speaks out. This also gives you a way to follow up afterwards.

Chapter 8: Help People to Exhale Emotionally and Mentally

Questions for your sullen teenager:
  • What's the most frustrated you have ever felt with your mom/dad or me?
  • How bad was it for you?
  • What did it make you want to do? What did you do?

Chapter 9: Check Your Dissonance at the Door

  • Feedforward: most people are closed off to criticism about a mess-up in the past, but nearly everybody is much more open to great ideas for future success.
  • How bad was it for you?
  • What did it make you want to do? What did you do?

Chapter 10: When All Seems Lost — Bare Your Neck

  • Show them your neck, and they'll want to show you theirs.
  • Owning up to your feeling of vulnerability is empowering and can create strong bonds.

Chapter 11: Steer Clear of Toxic People

  • Bullies come after you because they think you are easy prey.
  • When a bully tries to intimidate you by verbally attacking you, do this. Make eye contact. Act perfectly polite but ever-so-slightly bored, as if your mind is elsewhere. Let your body language transmit the same message: Stand up straight, be relaxed, and cock your head as if you're listening but not very hard. Let your arms hang casually, instead of folding them defensively across your chest. Often, this response makes bullies feel uncomfortable or even foolish and causes them to back down.
  • You can strike back hard. Sometimes they just need someone to say something to their face, such as "I'm happy that I don't work for you."

Chapter 12: The Impossibility Question

Moving a person from listening to considering — and from "Yes...but" to "Yes!". Here is how it works:
  • YOU: What's something that would be impossible to do, but if you could do it, would dramatically increase your success?
  • OTHER PERSON: If I could just do _____, but that's impossible.
  • YOU: Okay. What would make it possible?

Chapter 14/15: The Empathy Jolt / The Reverse Play

  • The Empathy Jolt is a powerful intervention to use when two people in your life are beating on each other instead of communicating.
  • Do the unexpected by apologizing yourself, and something very different occurs: you shift a person instantly out of defensive mode and cause the individual to mirror your humility and concern.

Chapter 16: "Do you REALLY Believe That?"

Chapter 17: The Power of Hmmmm

  • Instead of shutting someone down, encourage them to go deeper by using words like "Hmmm,", "Really," and "And so."

Chapter 19: From Transaction to Transformation

  • Interview example: What question could I ask that would help me stand out from the crowd? "I'd like you to imagine it's a year from now, and you and your bosses are reviewing the people you've hired this year. When it comes to this position, say 'Get us ten more like that one'. Can you tell me what that person did for them and you to get such a rave review?"