Apple Award Winning Podcast
Interviewer becomes interviewee – Oscar Trimboli speaks with Kelly Irving to share the story behind Deep Listening.
How did we get here? Oscar shares about his listening through school and early work, how listening helped people understanding others’ perspectives. Through his work as an executive coach, Oscar can empower others by letting them feel listened to.
Learn about listening superheroes, challenges Oscar faces with listening, and about his vision for one hundred million listeners around the world.
Podcast Episode 51: Oscar’s life of listening
Deep listening, impact beyond words. The difference between a good and a great listener isn’t how well they listen, but how quickly they notice they’re not.
Hi, I’m Oscar Trimboli and this is the Deep Listening podcast series, designed to move you from an unconscious listener to a deep and productive listener. Did you know you spend 55% of your day listening yet only 2% of us have had any listening training whatsoever. Frustration, misunderstanding, wasted time and opportunity, along with creating poor relationships are just some of the costs of not listening. Each episode of the series is designed to provide you with practical, actionable, and impactful tips to move you through the five levels of listening. So I invite you to visit, oscartrimboli.com/facebook to learn about the five levels of listening and how others are making an impact beyond words.
Today the tables are turned. Today my book editor Kelly Irving, is goin to interview me. Because there’s a couple of things I’ve heard consistently from feedback from you, the listener, from season one, you wanna hear more about me. This is a struggle for me because my unique superhero power is my cloak of invisibility, and I love making other people successful. And what that means for me is being behind the scenes, being the director, not the film star, being the producer of the musical but not on stage. So today I wanted to bring somebody into this conversation who knows me, who I trust, and who knows my work deeply. There’s only person I know who could conduct this interview, to preview the change for season two, and that’s Kelly. And in season two, we’re gonna work through the five levels of listening. Again, to honour the process, I’m handing this interview over completely to Kelly and she’s in control.
Thank you Oscar. It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to be here interviewing the interviewer. So I’m really looking forward to delving into some of your personal experiences with listening but also what you’ve learned through the course of doing your podcast with other people. But first, I think one of the things that most of us wanna know is, how did you get here? How did you get to where you are today with deep listening being your expertise?
I think it always makes sense when you look backwards but in the moment while you’re experiencing things it doesn’t kinda make sense. I go and look at things even growing up at school, I went to a school with 23 nationalities and I always seemed to be the hub in between the various nationalities. I was the hub in between the athletes and the scholarly people, I was the hub between the musicians and the theatrical people, and those who were brand new migrants, I was the hub between the teachers and the students. I obviously became this hub because I was listening the everybody’s perspective. And when teachers wanted to understand where the students were coming from, kinda come and ask me. Students ask where the teacher’s coming from, they kinda asked me.
You gotta remember, in our school with 23 nationalities, we had awesome lunches, you could swap any meal from Asia, from eastern Europe, from South America. And there was always a version of some kind of card game going on, so whether it was briscola from Italy or a card game from China, we’d all be learning different card games. But it also meant that in learning cards, you’ve gotta listen to people’s body language. Now I won’t say I great at card but I was great at reading and listening beyond what they were showing with their cards or with their face.
I think also as I looked into my career, I was always somebody who was listening in a very different way. So my roles were … I started off life as a audit clerk in an accounting firm, I was counting spark plugs for a Jaguar dealer. And my manager pointed out to me in under 30 days I think Robert said to me, “We’ve got a problem.” And we had paper base spread sheets, this was before computers, and I was transposing numbers. So instead of writing one, eight, nine, I would write nine, one, eight or nine, one, something else, and it’s condition called dyscalculia. Which basically means it’s the same as your ability to be dyslexic when speaking but only as it relates to numbers. Which kinda shortens your career when you’re looking at a career for account, which started me off in a career in computers.
But the first thing I had to do was computerise our accounting firm which had 35 staff. But what I learnt in that process was that I actually had to listen to the typing pool, that’s what we had in those days. And there was a lot of resistance to the idea of computerization because these ladies thought they would lose their jobs, but I listened to what their objections were and I integrated it into training.
And as I look back now, when people undertake massive change exercises in organisations, they don’t do enough of that listening to people at the front line and the actual change their undergoing. And I can picture Helen right now explaining to me what she actually did to type up a balance sheet that somebody like Robert or Esther had given her. And I said, “Do you love that work?” And she said, “It gets a bit boring after a while.” And I said, “Well imagine you could just do the work you loved and the boring stuff was taken over by the computer.” And you could see the change in her face straight away. But all she’d heard was, “Computers are gonna take your job.” And ironically, four years later we’re still hearing that in the workplace, that computers are gonna take your job.
But if I wind the clock forward to my last corporate role at Microsoft, I was renowned for helping out agencies listen differently to our customers. I would bring our advertising agencies into the computer server room which was quite cold, and do the briefing in there so they understood what our customers were actually going through when they came to using our technology. And in that example, getting them to listen to the surroundings.
I also made sure that our staff listened to the contact centre. In global corporations you can get really disconnected from the work that is important, that’s your customers, because you have global frameworks, global brand guidelines, global playbooks that literally could tell you exactly what to do. But the reality is, our customers haven’t read the playbook. And we went to the contact centre and started to listen to the problems they were talking about.
And so one of the divisions I looked after was the Microsoft Office division, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook. And the kinds of problems customers were talking to our contact centre people on the phone had nothing to do with what was in the playbook, that their problems were much more basic. The language we were using in our collateral and on our websites wasn’t useful to our customers and we hand to change that.
And there was a point in time where I was standing at Macquarie University on a graduate day representing Microsoft, and people were just walking past us. They were going to Ernst & Young and going to the banks and consulting companies and I thought, “There’s something not right with Microsoft’s employment brand.” And I went to Tracey Fellows, our managing director at the time after that and said, “I’ve got an idea. I think we need to change the graduate programme.” And what I did was, I went and listened to every graduate that Microsoft had hired that year, I went and listened to every graduate who Microsoft had hired in the last five years, and even the ones who’d left Microsoft, understood what was good and bad about our graduate programme. Just in listening and presenting that back to the business, we created a programme that ended up getting taken globally, and as a result of that, I realised the power in listening.
And then I discovered a profession called executive coaching. And all you do all day, everyday in executive coaching is listen. You literally spend 95% of your day going, “Mm-hmm (affirmative). What else are you thinking about on that topic?” And what I realised, it released amazing energy in the counterpart that you were working with just because they felt they were being heard.
And there was a mentor who said to me, “Your skill in listening is world class. If you could codify that for others, you’d transform the world.” And in that idea, that kind of sat with me for about a whole swim season, about six months. I was mulling over that idea as I was swimming down the Macquarie University swim lane over and over and over again, and then out at Mona Vale Beach. I came back to the mentor and I said, “Well, I wanna touch 10 million people by 2030. I wanna get this message out about listening to 10 million people.” And he said, “You know what? If you can achieve that goal in your lifetime, you’re not being ambitious enough. Let’s go for 100 million.”
And that brings us to why I created the podcast series as one of the ways to get the message out there. I can’t physically train 100 million people out there and there won’t be 100 million people that listen to the podcast, but a good chunk of that 100 million may come about through podcasts, online programmes, speaking.
You’re a colleague, you’re a client, you’re a customer, you’re a supplier, you’re a friend, you’re a husband, what is the one thing that you would say is your difficulty or something that you struggle with when it come to listening to others?
The things I’m struggling with right now is, I’m also a son dealing with a father who’s struggling with his health. I’m also a grandfather, and three grandchildren and another one along the way in July, and I struggle everyday with listening … I always say the difference between a good and a great listener isn’t how well they listen, but how quickly they notice they’re not. It’s distraction that’s the killer for every one of us when it comes to listening.
So for me, the things I struggle with every single day is being completely present in the moment with you right now Kelly. And for me, the things I train myself to do and those little practises I make sure are in place to make sure I’m completely present, that this moment is … I watch this zone here, on your lips, I move my gaze up wider and then I move to your face and then I notice your energy. And that goes through a very rhythmic, almost 60 second cycle where I start to notice what’s happening with Kelly’s lips. Is what she’s saying and what’s happening with her lip movements the same as what the rest of her face is? I notice her body energy’s low but she’s trying to tell me she’s excited about a particular concept but the rest of her body’s not giving that away.
But equally in my consulting work, I make sure that from the time I step into the lobby to the time I get to reception, sometimes I go through an elevator, sometimes not, at that point I set my intention as, “It’s all about them.” So for that moment, while I’m in the lift, I’m not looking at my phone, in fact I’m switching it to flight mode, not silent. I’m switching it to flight mode, not silent. And I think for a lot of us that will liberate us if even for the moment of that meeting and you switch your phone to flight mode and not silent. Because even in silent, we’ll get a buzz then a beep and some of you even have your phones connected to your watches and they’ll beep for you.
In that moment, I set my intention and I take some really deep breaths and I go … I’m not attached to my outcome, I’m attached to their outcome, and I’m only there to listen to them. So by the time I step out of the lift, or I step to reception and say, “Hi, my name’s Oscar, I’m here to see Mary,” my mindset’s completely changed. Because I’m not thinking about my dad and dealing with my age carer and helping my sister coordinate what we’ve gotta do with a treatment plan for him at the moment around his memory and his stroke condition. That’s something that keeps my mind distracted during the day.
Or thinking about Paige and Sander, Lauren’s brand new … It’s three week old grandchildren and managing twins is hard for Lauren and for Matt, and that’s hard work for them. And my wife Jen’s amazing support to them and I’m there to support her and we’re passing like ships in the night at the moment, but I’m always thinking in any conversation, “Okay. So what have I gotta do to look after Jen and what about dad? And then I’ve got clients and all of that.”
For me it’s that, it’s like the minute I step into that lift, or the minute I’m about to pick up a phone to call somebody, I go through the exact same practise. To make sure I’m breathing deeply and hold a U shaped breath. So hold the breath, take it all the way down, come across, hold the breath, and then exhale all the way up. For a lot of us, we’re just eye shaped breathing, in and out. Just hold the breath a little bit longer because in getting oxygen to the brain, we’ll be more present to listen, and that’s the one practise I use when I struggle.
The difference between good listeners and great listeners, great listeners just know when they’re distracted and they’re back into the conversation quicker. Good listeners are just distracted and not even noticing.
What about time between when you’re on your own? Because one of the things that you talk about and it’s also resonated from the other people in your podcast is, how important it is to listen to yourself. So you’re talking a lot about transitioning conversations, but do you have any practises or anything that you do when you’ve got time to yourself?
Look for me, a structure is really important around excise regimes for me. So I’m an early riser, so for those of your who aren’t you may not relate, if you go to bed late, maybe there’s another way you can adapt these things. But in getting up early, I set my intentions for the day.
I’m very deliberate when I prepare food, as an example. So when I’m preparing food for breakfast, and it’s typically something as exciting as a chocolate protein shake with a banana in it, from the moment the water, the powder, the banana, or the strawberries might go in if I really wanna reward myself, my intention is set at a point to go, “Okay. I’m putting food in my body and am I completely listening to myself at the moment?” Rather than, “I wish this Blitzer would hurry up because I’ve gotta get this protein shake into me as quickly as possible so I can move onto the next task for the morning. So in the past I was resentful about just the practise of preparing food and now for me, it’s a way to go, “Okay, so let’s just listen to what’s important.”
I’m always in a titanic battle. If you were inside my head, the kind of conversations between the devils and the angels in my head, are really draining sometimes. And it’s not draining when I’m in the moment of the client, that’s why I love working with clients, because I’m completely given over and working for their outcome. But when I’m struggling with a book deadline or something to do with the website or getting videos done, or making sure that I’m setting up a good set of systems to interact with my business manager and myself, that’s when the noise starts. And that’s when I’m not listening to myself, because they’re the tasks that don’t energise me. Others energise me, being absorbed in myself, I find that really draining.
Most people who know you, or have met you, even listen to you on this podcast, the thing that they will pick up and that the describe you as is, you’re very articulate and you’re very considered and measured in the way that you speak and the way that you listen and respond to questions. And I would say that some people will actually find that quite unnerving.
Some people say intimidating.
Intimidating. Yeah. And I think that that is because we’re so used to speaking at a million miles per hour, we’re used to talking at people, whereas your approach is this complete opposite, where you are truly actually listening and using pausing and things like that. Is this something that you’ve practised, like an approach that has been a considered approach that you have intentionally practised or is it something that is innate that you’ve kind of developed over time? How would you describe…
Yeah. I think what struck me when we were working together is, for me to get the best out of my editor, I had to get good at speaking. And I think in the early days, you probably experienced all of what you were talking about there. You’re probably used to people speaking fast and this bloke rocks up on the phone and talks slow and he pauses and asks you questions, and people are thrown off balance. I think that’s true. What I’ve tried to notice in myself is, it’s a deliberate practise because I’m trying to be an example of what an alternative universe might look like. There’s no shortage of great speaker role models out there. People who are articulate, who can speak well, who can bring about change. But equally, there’s amazing listening leader role models out there.
And so there I was fully aware of the true impact of tobacco and seeing it in front of my eyes all the time, and then this man had just told me I earned shares in the companies that make the products that were killing my own patients.
Dr. Bronwyn King has changed the face of tobacco investment in Australia and around the world just because she listened to her financial planner when they asked her, did she wanna be in the default fund. And then she went and listened to fund managers around the world and there’s divested over $8 billion in tobacco stocks. And she’s a leader I admire because she listened. And she’s got $168 billion to go, that’s how much money’s invested in tobacco stocks by publicly held fund managers. And there aren’t that many listening superheroes out there. You probably couldn’t name one, right? We struggle to name our listening teachers because we didn’t have any.
And yet, when I think about the Lego Movie franchise, which is a billion dollar movie franchise now, but the very first movie in their franchise, no one’s actually ever heard of. It was quite a disaster as a movie and it was brought out only on DVD, and yet Lego believed in the idea and what they did was they got two new directors on board and they took them out and listened to the fans of Lego, and listened to what was unique about Lego fans and just the simple concept that you’re not allowed to use blue in Lego if you’re a real fan, was something they discovered by listening. And the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh movie in the franchise and the games that have come about from it. And that’s just the movie franchise, that’s got nothing to do with the extra sales. Lego’s made billions, and billions of more Lego sales around the world because they actually listened to their fan base.
So for me pausing, for me breathing deeply, for me slowing down, even when I’m doing speech from stage, people always comment on it’s different, people always comment on I take them to a completely different place and state and you kinda mentioned it before because what people tend to do after a while is, they’ll mirror your breathing, so if you slow your breathing down and you’re leading the dialogue, theirs will too. You might even be noticing that at the moment for yourself, right? So for me, it is something that I’m more conscious of in the last five years, it’s something that I wasn’t necessarily conscious of before. But I always thought that I was a very in tune listener, if you spoke to my auntie or my uncles who might’ve observed me as a teenager, probably would’ve called me an introvert and somebody who liked to watch and ask questions.
So I think it has been innate but it’s more deliberate in it’s practise because I’m seeing the impact and the implication of that, particularly in my corporate consulting work. When I’m sitting across from an executive or a leadership team, they are beyond frantic. And for me, my tole in the first five minutes is just to bring the energy down. Just to bring the temperature down, just to take the [inaudible 00:22:31] out of their head, and the gibber gabber that’s going on from the last meeting or the next meeting or something that they’ve read in the newspaper about their brand, and just get them present in this moment and be focused on them. And get really, really, really in the moment with them and more importantly, they get in the moment with me. And for a lot of them, they think it’s a luxury. But in doing so, they create a space and a place that I can give more to their teams.
So I’m really conscious of architecting physical environments, I think about how I set up a room, I think about where I sit compared to the door. So a lot of cases, I will always sit to the opposite of the door so that anybody who feels uncomfortable with me in meeting me the first time, they always know they can grab the door quicker than I can. And that way we create safety and trust for the conversation. So the simple things, trying to move a lot of chairs out of the room and being deliberate about architecting the environment for listening and safety for them.
Would you say you were described as a quiet child? Or do you think that it’s a tendency that we’re labelling the quiet child, the introvert, because we don’t have these superheroes?
I can picture myself right now reading encyclopedias at home, I can picture myself really enjoying the libraries, whether they were the libraries in our local area or libraries in our school or libraries in our universities, that that was a place for me. So I don’t think introvert or extrovert is good or bad or a label doesn’t actually matter to me. And I don’t think it should matter to parents either. There aren’t any listening superheroes out there.
That’s why I’m curious to collaborate with you who might be listening. I wanna build silent film festivals on listening. I wanna build a comic strip like Dilbert for listening so hopefully someone out there will hear the idea and reach out and say they wanna work with me. Because I think these different ways of talking about listening rather than doing a speech only on listening and that’s why the podcast’s here, is this may help reach out and put these people that we regard as quiet on a platform where they can tell their story but more importantly speak about their impact.
But you already made a great first step with that with series one of the podcast, because you really gathered a really collective array of people. You’ve had journalists on, you’ve interviewed singers, you’ve interviewed sailors, a Auslan interpreter, a real mixed bag of some real, what I would describe as listening heroes. And I guess one key take out for me, which possibly was one of the unsaid things for the series of interviews was, that we need to keep practising our listening skills. It’s not something that we either have or we don’t have or we learn and then that’s it, you kind of get a certificate or whatever and that’s it. You have to keep practising . What have been some of the most powerful take outs for you listening to the people that you’ve interviewed?
I architected an environment for you the listener, around the five levels of listening. So each of those people are experts in one of the five levels of listening. And I’ve been very deliberate that half the audience is female, and half the audience in male, half the people I interview are older than me, and half the people I interview are younger than me. Half English is their first language, half English is not. Half are from professional contexts and half from personal contexts, and personal context can be a lifeline counsellor, and professional context might be an air traffic controller.
So creating this palate for everybody to listen to has been really important for me. And I think I probably haven’t said it out loud, but I want the audience to understand I’m really careful in curating awesome people who kind of bring to life all the levels of listening and be able to connect with you on whatever level you’re at.
In terms of daily practises and what am I taking out of 50 episodes of amazing listeners. One, I’m not an expert. I am so far from an expert, that these people I interview are dealing with life, death decisions, whether it’s an air traffic controller or a life line counsellor. People who are negotiating as mediators of dealing with people’s lives. Their financial life’s in their hand or it might be the environment around them in their hands. I remember Ken talking about environmental mediation, whether we’re either gonna put in a dam and dam a river and what that would mean for all the community around there. And listening in those contexts is amazing.
I was working in a medium sized city in Arkansas. Members of the city council and the city attorney had called and said, “We’ve got this horrible problem here. Can you come and help? There’s a dam in the city and the environmental groups want the dam taken down and the city council wants the dam remaining. The environment want a river and the city council people and the corporate world wants the dam because it provides electricity and jobs and a whole series of other things. So everybody had their reasons for this.
I think for me, I probably take a little bit out of everybody and a bit of them with me to every meeting. And there’s people who talk about Allen Stokes who’s a life line counsellor and the importance of not asking judgmental questions or questions that begin with “Why.”
Why questions are loaded with judgement quite often. Not always but 90% of the time. Why do you do that? Why are you asking me in that tone of voice? Why did you decide to stay with your abusive wife or husband? Why didn’t you do this? As you can see, in all of those questions, there’s an implied judgement , an implied negativity. It’s not a positive non-judgmental approach. It’s an approach that somehow comes with baggage.
And then we’ve got people like Tom Varghese who’s talking about the role of poachers in a global society and how we have to listen beyond the words and understand the origin culture that these people are coming from. And then I think about Adaire a palliative care nurse, who’s listening to people and families, trying to make meaning at the end of somebody’s life. These are all amazing listening attributes and what I am gifted by every inch of you is, I can get better every day as a listener.
Listening isn’t a thing you do, listening is something you need to practise. It’s the difference between going on a diet and eating healthy, you have to have a healthy life, you’ve gotta eat healthy all the time and you can’t go on and off diet. And listening is no different. It’s a constant practise every single day, you have to become conscious of it, you have to improve on it. But you have to be committed to improving so you will improve.
So all I take out of all those interviews is, no matter how much I know about listening, there’s always more for me to do but the most important thing for me to do is to be a human being. And if I’m a human being and connect with another human being, that’s all they need from me in that moment around listening. Because it’s the first thing we learn when we’re in our mother’s womb, it’s the last sense that leaves our body when we die. So just be a listener, you don’t have to do listening.
Was there anything that really stood out for you that surprised you? That you perhaps hadn’t heard from anybody else before.
A couple of things surprised me. Number one, the surprise when people say, “What are the questions you’re going to ask me Oscar?” and I say, “Oh look, I’ll just have a kick off question that says, “Who was the best listener around the dinner table?”” And even that question alone … So that was taught to me by Edith who documents people’s lives and creates their life story because emotion is connected with food, and she said that’s always a great opening question.
But what surprised me was, a lot of people don’t have dinner table conversations. A lot of people don’t have dinner. A lot of people have fragmented families and are running around. Probably at least half the audience said, “Yeah, E can’t think of that because we didn’t have regular dinner conversations because we were fighting,” or, “One of my parents was working,” or, “Both my parents were working,” or, “I had to eat by myself,” or, “I had to cook by myself and eat by myself.” So that was the first surprise for me, the assumption was, “Okay. Well, everybody has dinner.” No they don’t Oscar. So even in listening there, that was fascinating. The other thing was consistent surprise is, whatever I thought an air traffic controller could teach me, wasn’t what resonated with the audience.
And in just listening to their story, I remember talking to Adam about, he was passionate about Lancaster bomber pilots and was a historical advocate of that community of people from World War II. And his biggest learning on listening came from listening to people in their 90s and who were centurion … Yeah, over 100 years old and he said, “I realised I was interrupting them. They were just taking their time to get their memories out.” And he said, “It must be a struggle for people at that age.” And I simply said to him, “Do you think that’s true only of people who are elderly?” And you could hear this big pause and Adam went, “Oh, no. I guess I interrupt more than I think.” And then he said, “My wife will tell you that.” And in that moment he had a listening insight as well.
Now I was going to interview him as an air traffic controller, there was air traffic controller stories there. So I think what consistently surprised me is, every interview’s a surprise. That by the time I got to episode 25, I was comfortable with being surprised because I knew there’d be gold for you, the listeners in the audience.
Do you think that’s something that we should take into every conversation our self as people speaking and listening to each other?
Yeah. I think for a lot of us, we have this architected blue print of where we want the conversation to go, and where our frustration comes about is where the person you’re listening to didn’t read the script that was in your head and they’re going in a completely different direction and you’re going, “Hey, hey, hey. Come back, come back to here. It’s all about me.” And what you’ve just gotta give up in the moment is go, “Well, let’s see where this goes.” Because that’s where the gold usually is in what’s unexpected and unsaid and what’s unexplored.
his concept of the dinner table question, I find quite interesting, especially given the responses that you got. And I’m interested to hear your perspective. Do you think we’re actually almost doing ourselves a disservice these days because a lot of us aren’t obviously sitting down and having dinner with other people, families, where we’re practising listening perhaps?
Maybe, maybe not. I think there are other listening environments in the modern world that we don’t explore. So the equivalent in the past might’ve been dinner conversations and probably half the audience still do have those dinner conversations. But I think what are the listening opportunities when you’re driving your kids to school? What are the listening opportunities when you’re driving maybe on holidays? What are the listening opportunities when you’re commuting? Those environments are environments where you can explore listening as well.
I think it’s a judgement to go that having dinner conversations are right. It’s kind of like saying that meditation is something you do and somewhere you go. Whereas think listening just carries us everywhere we go, so just helping each of us to go, “Yeah, we can practise those skills, that listening.”
I remember last week I was talking to Taran who’s working with organisations around employing deep listening. And she’s a leadership consultant, and she said what struck her was her three year old daughter was saying to her and her husband, “Mommy, you don’t have your listening ears on at the moment. Daddy, stop looking at your phone. You need to be listening to me.”
So I think the thing I would say is, just like at the dinner table in the past, parents are the role models for listening, even in modern day. Everything we do as parents, you are role models for listening, so be conscious of the example you’re setting. Because if you are on your phone or you are distracted or the other example was, “Mommy, you’re bumping my sentences.” Which is her way of saying, her three year old daughter, Taran’s daughter saying, “You’re interrupting me mom.” She didn’t have the words to say interrupt but she’d say, “You’re bumping my words.”
I think those are the things that adults need to bring to children because they’re conscious of it. And equally, what can adults learn from children about how to listen? Because they are completely present, they aren’t distracted, they are in the moment. So it’s for that too.
What’s been some of the other feedback from people about the impact these podcasts have had?
It’s been so broad, it’s been so interesting, and it’s been so surprising. We’ve had people working with the books and the playing cards inside prisons in New Zealand as an example, working with principles and school teachers in country of Victoria. We’ve had it used inside banks for customer service training. It’s been used in New Zealand at company kick offs where the managing director pointed specifically to one of our podcast episodes and said to the sales team that they need to become better listeners. To which one of the sales persons said to the leader, “It needs to start with you, boss.” I’ve had people from Holland ask me if I’d consider having the books translated into Dutch. I’ve had people from America ask me if I would travel to New York and speak at events there on the topic of listening because they haven’t found somebody that talks to listening the way I do.
So they’ve all been surprising on a big scale, but where it always changes the next conversation that you’re gonna have. And what surprised me, I remember Luke giving me a call and left me a voicemail message. He was travelling somewhere on a long commute to work and he’d just listened to the episode with Ebohr climbing up Machu Picchu with his dad.
My family know that I’m a mediator and they sometimes remind me of that when I don’t wanna be reminded, but what I can definitely say is, recognising without going into a lot of detail, that we’ve all got our own patterns of relating, and particularly to particular family members. My father who’s now passed away, I can recognise, and its sad that it’s after he’s passed away, that I’m more mindful of the way in which I contributed to misunderstandings with my father, and to be honest, the way in which I didn’t listen to him in crucial times. Or I listened to him from behind a bunker of my own creation, so that when my father actually was really being quite open, I had so many defences around myself that I didn’t really share myself and I didn’t really listen to my dad. So I was essentially mind reading him rather than actually really being truly present in the way that I can professionally.
And he rang me up and he said, “That episode really touched me,” because what he told me was, “I’m not listening to my dad right now.” And I thought, “Wow. All these conversations that are going on because people are starting to listen to themselves and listen to the others. It’s been really surprising. Practically, 60, 70, 80, 100 people are doing book reviews on Amazon. 20 odd people are doing reviews on the podcast telling me what’s going on.
And that’s been fascinating but what I love is the emails where a lady sent me an email, she’d split up with her husband two years ago and was really struggling with a conversation with him about how they were going to parent their two children. And she got the book through … I don’t actually know how she got the book to be honest. And she sent me an email and said, “Oh, this book is so timely. I’m having a mediation conversation with my husband tomorrow and what I’ve learnt is, I need to listen to myself. I’m not listening to myself.” And she sent me an email about three days later and said it was the most productive conversation she’d ever had with her husband or her ex-husband in this case. Because she’d just listened to him instead of trying to make her point and she said it was a break through moment for her.
And although my work is all in organisations and I warn people not to use this at home with their spouses, parents, or children, there’s a little bit of an overlap and people take it there as well. So those things have been joyful moments for me as this idea to get out to 100 million people. I can see that this little light is flickering now, and the kindling is starting to help to burn the bigger wood, and I can see that flame growing a little bit bigger.
So what’s next then?
Well, what’s next immediately is season two in the podcast series where we deconstruct deep listening through all five levels of listening. But then season three, we’re gonna interview you, our listeners, to understand how you’ve taken the five levels of listening. Share with other what you’ve struggled with and what you’ve made breakthroughs on. We’ve got a listening diagnostic tool where you’ll be able to do a questionnaire and understand where you are on the five levels of listening and some really practical steps to go from there as well. We’re also developing an online course at the moment for instructor of deep listening and we’ll develop an online course for listeners like you, to understand how to make change practical.
Longer term, if I dream big, teaching teaches at university how to teach students during their schooling how to listen, is one of my most ambitious goals. I’ve been exposed to systemic coaching, which says, “Whatever your goal is, if you can achieve it in your lifetime, it’s probably not big enough.” So changing, or adding, or augmenting curriculums for school age students, where teachers are role modelling and teaching listening. Creating silent film festivals on listening, creating comic strips on listening to make listening as accessible to as many people as possible. And that should keep my busy.
Thank you Oscar. And I wanna thank you for your work that you are doing and the impact that you are having on all of us, helping us continue to grow in this way. Thank you.
Thanks for listening.