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Podcast Episode 050: An evolution in Deep Listening

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Previously we have heard from listening experts around the world: air traffic controllers, high court judges, suicide counsellors, deaf interpreters and so many more.

In this episode you may notice things are a little different.

Beginning with this episode, the Deep Listening Podcast Series is evolving.

The consistent feedback from 50 episodes is that you want to hear more from Oscar about how to join the listening jigsaw puzzle together.

We’ll be doing a deep dive on the five levels of listening and joining us will be our new co-host, Nell Norman-Nott.

The focus will be on practical and impactful tips, to help you grow as a listener.

And don’t worry, we’ll still be doing great interviews unique listening experts including military snipers to talk about focus, body language experts to help you listen to non-verbal language, neuroscientists to help you understand the role of listening and memory.


Podcast Episode 50: An evolution in Deep Listening

Oscar Trimboli:

Welcome to Deep Listening, Impact Beyond Words, the podcast series. Welcome to episode 50, Something Worth Celebrating. In the last 50 episodes we’ve interviewed everybody spanning air traffic controllers, anthropologists, acoustic engineers, deaf interpreters, doctors, FBI hostage negotiators. Wow! We’ve done a lot of work. We’ve spoken to foreign language interpreters, funeral directors. We’ve spanned the world of listening. I’ve caught up with judges, with journalists, with palliative care nurses, suicide counsellors, and so much more in 50 episodes.

So, it’s little wonder that Apple Australia noticed us. And in 2018 we became one of the top 20 podcasts in Australia. So thanks to you for listening. Thanks to you for your feedback. Thanks to you for your emails, your texts, your voicemails, your phone calls, your words of encouragement, your reviews that you’ve left on iTunes, and your star ratings. I’m really grateful for that.

Some listeners have even called from the coastal road in country Victoria while they’re on vacation to talk about the episode they just finished and the impact it had on them. It’s really grateful for all that feedback. And one of the things we’ve added to our website to improve our listening is you can record a voice message now on the website. So on the right hand side of the website you’ll have a voice message feature, and you can send us your feedback on the podcast from there as well. Obviously we want to set up as many listening opportunities for me as possible.

Thanks to everyone who’s participating in the Facebook group as well. The Deep Listening Facebook group helps us learn from each other. Although people say I’m an expert in listening, what I’ve learned is a room is always smarter than the leader. So if we all come together in the Facebook group we can all learn from each other. Not only where we’re succeeding but where we’re struggling as well.

Thanks again for your recommendations for great people to interview. It’s based on your recommendations that we pick these people for their expertise and be part of the Deep Listening podcast series.

Hey look, when you spend all day and all night and even your sleeping hours thinking about listening, or as my wife Jen would say, completely obsessed about it, one of the things I’ve learned is I have to be a great role model for listening. And the reality is I’m far from perfect. I make lots of mistakes. I’m never a master, but I’m completely committed to improving. I know that practising every day makes me better.

Even today when Nell noticed the kind of hearing I’m applying to setting up the room for the podcast it was interesting that I was picking up sounds that she wasn’t, but the moment she came into the space she noticed how different the sound was.

What I’ve done deliberately is listen to your feedback, the feedback you’ve provided. That’s how we created the Facebook group. That’s based on the emails I received. That’s based on the phone calls I’ve received. And equally, it’s based on some very extensive research we’ve conducted in the last six months with 1,410 participants. Thank you to you if you’ve participated in the Deep Listening survey. And a few messages came through loud and clear. Number one, people love hearing from the experts on the podcast. Equally as helpful as experts are, there’s a hunger and a thirst from you to have me start to explain the five levels of listening. Explain it in a way that helps you make progress faster towards becoming a deeper listener.

So rather than leaving you to connect the dots through all the guests I’ve created in the last 50 episodes, I want to thank someone pretty special. Someone who punched me in the face, someone who slapped me on the back and said, “You can do better, Oscar.” And that’s person’s Paul Higgins. Thanks Paul. Paul said to me, “Look Oscar. It’s great to have a podcast series where you interview experts, but help me make sense of it all. Right now I’m struggling to join the dots together.”

Oscar Trimboli:

Paul, I’m grateful. It’s your direct and succinct explanation that’s helped me to crystallise all the feedback I’ve been receiving from everybody over the past 12 months of the podcast series. A second message that’s coming through loud and clear, and it’s really stark and obvious to me once I started going through each line in Excel of the research feedback. It takes a while to get through 1,410 people. But it’s completely worth it. And I was listening to your feedback the light-bulb moment for me was 86% of people are struggling at level one listening. Listening to yourself. You’re struggling with distraction, you’re struggling with focus, you’re struggling to stay in the conversation.

So, I think it’s important to explain that the five levels of listening are actually foundational. Level one builds a strong foundation for level two, and if you don’t have a strong foundation at level one it’s really difficult to access level two, three, four, and five. So it’s really critical that I take the time to explain level one properly.

So now it’s time for me to make this much more accessible, much more consistent, and much more practical for you. What it means is an evolution in the podcast rather than changing it. I’ll still continue … We’ll still continue to interview great experts from their fields. So keep those suggestions coming through about who we should interview who are deep listening experts. But we’re also going to start to unpick the five levels of listening in much greater detail. Think about an episode as being a masterclass. Think about it being a deep dive in unpicking stuff that matters for you around the five levels of listening, around making it practical, and around making actionable.

Around making it practical as well as making it really actionable on a daily basis.

You’re also going to hear from a new voice. Nell Norman-Nott is going to be joining me as a co-host. Nell has a perspective I could never have. Nell’s born in England. She worked across the UK, Europe, and all around the world. She’s a … She has extensive experience in business large and small as well as global. Most recently Nell was the chief marketing officer at LinkedIn Australia. She also worked for Yahoo, working with advertising agencies and their clients, as well as working with a professional services franchise across the UK and Europe. Even in her deep dark past there’s a bit of recruitment in there as well.

Nell’s a daughter, Nell’s a sister, Nell’s a mom, Nell’s a wife. She leads a really hectic life with two amazing kids, juggling work, home, and additional university studies. Nell loves to learn. So I invited Nell onto the journey with us, and she’ll be a co-host to help me with three things. The first to be your voice during the podcast. Nell does a great job of channelling what the audience is hearing to help make this podcast even better for you. Nell’s really passionate about the impact of listening. And she always asks me the most powerful questions. Every day, every week, every month, and now for a full year she’s been asking me a much repeated question, “How is this going to help create 100 million deep listeners in the world, Oscar?” By being clearer, simpler, and more impactful for those who listen to you. And it’s a great reminder to me to keep it simple.

The other thing Nell will do is create a perspective that’s completely different from mine. You see, Nell comes from a much younger generation. She also … I also want her to create a perspective that’s much more practical than mine, because when you spend all day thinking about deep listening you may be an expert in its practise, but I have to admit I’m far from an expert in teaching it. I’m getting better every day, and that’s thanks to the work that Nell has done to help me simplify my language.

Nell always stretches me. She always asks me the question that matters, “How does this help create 100 million deep listeners in the world sooner than 2030? How does this help people more effectively and sustainably listen through the five levels of listening?” So with that, I’m delighted to welcome Nell to the podcast.

And Nell, I’m kind of curious, growing up was there a story you remember that kind of was an anchor around, wow, listening really matters.

Nell Norman-Nott:       

Wow. Thanks for the great intro, Oscar, and thanks for defining me as the younger generation. It’s very kind. Growing up listening really underpins my life. Because both my parents worked in mental health. My father as a psychoanalyst and my mother as an occupational therapist. And listening was really at the heart of what they did day to day. So it really defines what was happening in our family dynamics. Because to listen to someone in therapy is vitally important because it’s the analyst’s job to draw information from session to session to understand the unconscious and things that are going on for that patient, and for that client.

So, I’ve really modelled through my life how my parents behaved. And in a lot of ways in doing so I actually became a person that my friends confided in. I went to a school in West London in the inner city, and I grew up surrounded by a lot of people from different cultures and different nationalities from all over the world. And I listened to their stories. I found them fascinating genuinely. And what I found is if I just kept on listening people kept on talking. And even when they paused they just kept revealing more and more. And I actually really enjoyed hearing the stories that they had to tell.

And I suppose I just absorbed this skill from my parents. And as you mentioned I’m studying at university now. I’m studying psychology, and it’s because of my love of hearing people’s stories and understanding how just that sense of listening can really help people, is why I’m doing the psychology course that I’m doing.

I moved to Sydney nine years ago, and I’ve got children. And I understand how listening can really help with having children. If there’s anyone that’s going to be a judge of how good a listener you are, Oscar, it’s your kids. And yeah. Something you’ve talked about with me previously and, yeah, children give 100% to the task that they’re doing. They’re completely present, whether they’re watching TV, or listening to a story, or they’re doing drawing, they’re completely absorbed in it. It’s fascinating to watch them. They’re right there with you.

But children are also little sponges, so they’re absorbing what we demonstrate, and we model to them as parents. And I don’t think there’s a parent out there that wouldn’t want their kids to be good listeners. And it’s something that I want for my children too. I mean, I don’t always get it right. I, last year went to my parent-teacher meeting with my son at his school. And, I mean, he’s in year one. And she said, “Look. He’s doing really well. Finn’s doing great. And have you ever noticed he’s got a lisp?” And I was like, “No. I haven’t. I haven’t noticed that at all.”

So, my life is pretty hectic as you said. I’m juggling work and Uni studies. And I just, I hadn’t really been listening. And, you know, Finn’s doing really well now. We put a plan in place and he’s seeing a speech therapist, and he’s on a really good path to not having a lisp anymore. So that’s great. But it made me really understand that at times I’m just not listening as I should be either. And I think having that ability to self-reflect and understand when we’re doing it right, and also when we’re not, is part of learning to be a deep listener as well.

And, you know, realistically it is. It’s just a practise. So Oscar. I’ve got a question for you. You talked about being an Apple award-winning podcast. You’ve received such amazing feedback. What are you going to be doing in the new series, and why the change?

But Oscar. I’ve got a question for you. You’ve got an Apple award-winning podcast. As you mentioned you keep receiving amazing feedback to keep it running and to do the second series. You know, we’re on episode 50 no. Why do you want to change what seems to have been such a successful approach?

Oscar Trimboli:

I think about it as more an evolution than change. I kind of think about it as more spice on the same curry. Or I think about it as more sauce on the same piece of meat rather than changing the steak itself.

Nell Norman-Nott:                  

Nice analogy for someone who’s a vegetarian, Oscar.

Oscar Trimboli:

Oh, yeah. There you go, adding me as a vegetarian. But I am.

I’m sure for other people, the irony won’t be lost on them. I think about two things. The feedback that I got from 50 episodes created a bunch of themes for me.

Oscar Trimboli:

Yeah, I’m sure the irony won’t be lost on others as well. So I think about two things, the feedback that we’ve got from the 50 episodes we’ve created so far. And that’s created a bunch of themes for me to make all that I’ve heard and listened to, but more importantly acted upon, taken action. As you know, Nell, we’ve made a massive investment in the last six months. We’ve interviewed 1,410 people to understand their barriers to listening. What’s really getting in the way. And what’s emerged, as you just said with your example about 86% of people are struggling with avoiding distractions, staying focused, and giving their undivided attention.

So, a special shout out to Heidi Martin from Audience Insights for making sense of all the data and turning into something that was really useful and actionable and is going to make a difference for you listening. So we’re evolving because of you. It’s the feedback you provided me and it’s because…

And it’s because we want to make sure that we honour the research, the feedback, that you’ve provided, and make sure that that creates a bigger impact.

So, the evolution is about a big insight for me. It’s not for you, it’s not for my wife. But it’s for everybody who’s read the Deep Listening book. What I realised is 200 times more people are listening to the Deep Listening podcast series than have ever bought the book. So as a result of that I need to do a better job of bringing what’s in the book to life through the podcast series. Because as you keep  email, I’ve got to get to 100 million sooner, and the podcast is going to help us get there quicker than just the books.

Oscar Trimboli:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love getting photos from people in Germany who take a photo of reading the Deep Listening book on a riverbank. And they send me a message saying, “Wow, this was so practical that I was able to use it on the same day.” I want the podcast series to evolve in a direction that’s all bout you the listener. I want you to understand that I’ve heard you. I’ve listened to you and I’ve acted upon it.

In listening to the experts from the last 50 episodes of the podcast series, we’re going to keep them in. We’re going to integrate these listening experts going forward and equally we’re going to integrate past episodes as well, because I think there’s so much gold in the past 50 episodes around all five levels of listening. So a big thank you to you for listening. You are the ones who have made this evolution possible. You are the ones who’ve enabled this Apple award-winning podcast to move from 2018 to 2019, evolving in a positive direction to create 100 million deep listeners in the world.

So as a gift, as a thank you, and to help you understand some of the practical steps to becoming a deeper listener, I’ve created a really simple PDF download called The Five Myths of Listening. So if you visit you’ll be able to download it there.

Nell Norman-Nott:                  

So, Oscar. Those are some great reasons for making this change. But I’m still really curious about what’s practically going to change.

Oscar Trimboli:

Well, the first thing you can expect is great interviews from listening experts and leaders around the world to continue. The podcast is diverse by design, and we’ve interviewed people who are older than me, we’ve interviewed people who are younger than me. And we want to interview people, half of them from Australia, half from overseas, half where English is their first language, and half where English is another language for them. Half of male, half of female. Half who listen professionally, and half who listen through a personal lens. So in that spirit I want to encourage the listeners to continue to make great suggestions, recommendations, and introductions about who we interview as guests.

But now practically what’s going to change? In the very next episode you’ll hear an interview between me and Kelly Irving. Kelly’s my book editor for Deep Listening. And we’re working together on the 125-400 Rule, The Art and Science of Listening As We Speak. Kel, as she likes to be known, flips the tables on me, and she actually interviews me about my backstory and helps to create the context about the quest towards 100 million deep listeners in the world.

Nell, I know you’ve had a chance to listen to the preview of that episode.

Nell Norman-Nott:       

I found that fascinating because I’ve been a listener of the first 50 episodes and seeing how it’s going to evolve is really exciting. I think in that first episode I got to know you more, Oscar, because I’ve been working with you now for close unto a year. I’ve known you for about two years before that. And it was really insightful for me to find out more about you. But I also think really practically for listeners out there, they’re going to hear some of those nuggets of gold, and that information that you deliver when you’re speaking or presenting to an audience.

And I’ve been lucky enough to go to several of your presentations. And one particularly stands out to me. It was April last year. I had just started working with you, and you were talking to 50 or so senior female executives, and there was a fantastic response. You could have heard a pin drop in that room. They were so tuned into you. But there was one person, and she was a recruiter, and she said she was having trouble attracting talent. You’d asked the room what, you know, how can I help you. And she put up her hand, and she just said, “There’s not enough talent out there. It doesn’t exist.”

And, yeah, through a series of really clever questions you were able to uncover that she just wasn’t listening to the unsaid. And I think this season with your interjections it’s just going to give people more information like that. So I’m fully supportive and I think it’s great what you’re doing.

And through a series of quite simple questions you were able to uncover she just wasn’t listening to the unsaid. And going forwards, the podcast are going to give that kind of information to the audience. So I think it’s fantastic.

Oscar Trimboli:

Yeah. I’m putting myself back in that room in inner-city Sydney. And I think it’s a really good example of what we need to do more of in the podcast series to help listeners get to simple actionable insights around the five levels of listening. And we want to go deeper. We want to create masterclasses just like what you saw when we were working in that theatre and Cara asked that question. And I think in that case with Cara we were really deliberate. I asked some simple questions about what’s happening at level one. Then about level two. And at that point …

And then at that point making sure that the questions are helpful for Cara. Very quickly for me it became obvious that she wasn’t exploring the unsaid. Funnily enough she rang me the next day, Nell, and said in a really excited tone in her voice. She’s always been frustrated with her interviews going over time. She always allocated 30 minutes for the interviews and they were always going longer. And this just kept adding and adding to the frustration. So while she was able to take time, pause a little bit longer and start to explore what was unsaid. When in the theatre she was worried that exploring unsaid was going to take more time to actually do the interview.

But what she discovered was it went faster if you listen to the unsaid. She actually finished her interviews quicker. She said she was able to get through the Friday conversation much quicker. But subsequently she’s been able to sift through the talent, to use her word, much faster. And getting much better-matched candidates for the clients she looked after. So we want to be able to provide this level of depth in the podcast, so we deconstruct and unpick those five levels of listening.

So, Nell, you and I will be speaking much more about the why, the how, and the what of listening to yourself. Remember, 86% of people are struggling with that alone. Then we’ll explore listening to the content at level two. Listening for the context at level three. Understanding what it means to be the ultimate listening ninja and listening to what’s unsaid, and then ultimately listening for meaning. Understanding the impact in listening beyond the words.

So, Nell, you’ve had a bit of an insight as well into what we’re designing and how we’re designing this going forward. How would you explain the evolution to those listening?

Nell Norman-Nott:                  

The thing is, we’re seeing more and more engagement on the Facebook group and over the past nine months I’ve really seen that grow, not just in the numbers of people but also in the interactions that are happening on there. I’m just curious to understand, what’s the purpose of creating that group?

Oscar Trimboli:

Nell, the purpose of the Deep Listening Facebook group, is really simple. How do we create 100 million deep listeners in world faster. If I’m not mistaken, you told me to create the Facebook group.

Nell Norman-Nott:                  

Well, it was clearly a very good idea then.

Oscar Trimboli:

Ah, a moment of brilliance on your part. So, if you haven’t visit It’s going to take you straight there.

Now the Facebook group is a listening tool that helps people listen to each other, not just to me. It helps people listen to others, understand where they’re struggling about their listening, where they’re not making progress. Understanding what’s frustrating them and what could they learn more of. And those are the three questions you’ll all be asked before you join the Facebook group to help us understand how we can support you the best.

Three names stand out for me: Andrew, Kate, and Nicky. The explanation of Andrew, the biggest thing I struggle with is trying not to solve their problems before they finish speaking. And I remember Kate saying I struggle with not filling in the blanks the minute they pause. And for those of you listening, if that’s the case treat the pause as if you would another word. Listen to silence fully, completely, and wait for the pause to finish. Listen till the energy’s gone out of that silence. And I said the same to Kate on the Facebook group. Listen fully to that pause. And then finally Nicky, my all-time favourite kind of frustration in the group. She put this all in caps: I struggle with being truly present in every conversation and cutting out the white noise.

Now, all these things reinforce what our researchers said. Around 86% of people are struggling with level one listening first. They’re struggling to avoid distractions. They’re struggling to stay focused. They’re struggling to make sure that listening is at the centre of what they do.

I think the final thing we’re trying to do now is build a community. Build a tribe of deep listeners in the world. Build a tribe that will create a ripple effect beyond the Facebook group and bring about an impact beyond … And bring it back … I think the final thing, Nell, is we’re trying to build a community. We’re creating a tribe of deep listeners that’s having an impact beyond words, beyond the Facebook group, beyond the current generation. So it’s all about listening to each other. It’s all about learning to see what people are struggling with. And understanding that if they’re similar to you and you’re struggling with the same thing that’s great. But equally understand where people are different from you. And maybe they’re struggling with different things that you’re great at and you can help them.

I think it’s about helping to understand when people are making progress and understanding how quickly they’re making progress. It’s about understanding when they’re stumbling, and it’s about understanding when they get up. Ultimately it’s always been about listening to the others in the Facebook group to create a bigger impact, to create a faster impact and a path towards 100 million deep listeners in the world. Nell, this has been fun. I didn’t realise how much fun we could have doing a two-way podcast. I’ve learnt a lot from you already. Over the last two years we’ve got to know each other. In the last nine months we’ve worked much more closely together.

You really create a different perspective from me in my work and in serving everybody out there to create 100 million listeners in the world. So here’s my question. What’s the best listening tip that anyone’s ever given you, Nell?

Nell Norman-Nott:       

The best listening tip has got to be the tip I learned from a young age. So what I was talking about earlier on, which is just being comfortable with the silence, and to acknowledge that pause. As you’ve said previously, it’s not always that easy. But I suppose through learning that at a young age and observing it in my parents it gave me the opportunity to be someone who can listen effectively as I’ve got an older … And it does give you that space when you’re in a conversation with someone to hear not what’s just said, but also to hear the unsaid. As you were saying earlier, that was something that Cara learned through the presentation that you gave at that event back in April last year.

Oscar Trimboli:

So, Nell, you talked about earlier on growing up at your school you realised silence was really potent.

Nell Norman-Nott:       

Yeah. I think there’s one particular story that really stands out for me. I had a best friend at school called Ying Yue. She was from Beijing and China. And she came to my high school when she was 13. She joined my class and she didn’t speak a word of English. And we became friends because she sat next to me. It kind of felt a little bit like default to begin with, but we also got along really well. She didn’t speak a word of English, but she loved drawing, and so did I. So we sort of drew pictures for one another. And in that kind of interaction I learned that you are quieter when you’re drawing, and you are silent. And I suppose we couldn’t speak in words, so we spoke through what we were doing, drawing on paper. And you know, we developed quite a deep friendship as a result of that, and I think it enabled here, when she did learn English actually incredibly quickly. A lot more quickly than I’d ever be able to learn Mandarin, which was what she spoke from being from Beijing.

But she revealed to me that as a young child she witnessed being in Tiananmen Square. So as you’d know there was the big riot there with the students who were protesting. And she being a really young child, so from her perspective she was on the back of her mother’s bike. And they were going through the market stalls, and then suddenly everyone was running and everyone was screaming and they were saying, “The police are shooting at students in Tiananmen Square.”

And so she remembers the experience going on her mother’s bike all the way through the windy streets. And as she said it she was really emotional. Obviously now we know about this as a really landmark kind of event that happens, and you know, I think that’s a really good example of the power of just being, pausing, being silent, and being able to help someone unload something that they feel that’s troubling them and that they want to reveal.

Oscar Trimboli:

Thanks Nell for sharing that and sharing it fully and honestly. I can see that story would have touched you at a young age as a teenager. But equally for your friend from China exactly the same, the opportunity to be heard by somebody probably changed her life and helped accelerate her English learning faster because she created this amazing relationship. And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve invited you on the podcast, to be a co-host and to create a different perspective and these great stories from your history. I don’t have those. I have others. But Ying’s story was really powerful.

Oscar Trimboli:

Finally, thank you to you, the listener. We want to send you a thank you gift where you can go and download the five myths of listening. It will help you understand practically how to become a deeper listener. So if you visit you can download it there.

Thank you to you for creating the Deep Listening podcast series. It takes a village to nurture a child into a healthy adult. And it takes a tribe like this, the Deep Listening podcast community coming together to create 100 million deep listeners in the world. Thanks for listening.


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