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Judgement
Apple Award Winning Podcast
Podcast Episode 082: Being a better listener by suspending shrewd judgement

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Daniel has learned to “see” using a form of echolocation. He clicks his tongue and sends out flashes of sound that bounce off surfaces in the environment and return to him, helping him to construct an understanding of the space around him. In a rousing talk, Kish shows how this works – and asks us all to let go of our fear of the dark unknown. 

Daniel and I did this interview at the end of a sunny California summer day and he asked me if it was ok to do this interview while he took his afternoon walk – he also did the interview via video so it was great to get to know Daniel’s cat and neighbourhood. 

Today my mind was changed by Daniel and the role of judgement in a discussion.

My judgement, your judgement, our judgement – judgement can be a significant barrier to the productive progress of the conversation. 

I love the way Daniel is conscious of his need to suspend judgement and the process he goes through in his preparation for a conversation.

Equally I admire his reflective practice at the end of the conversation and day to notice his judgement.

 Listen in a little more at the end of this conversation I ask Daniel to notice how I listen and what I listen for its always remarkable for me to ask others to notice how I listen and how others listen.

Transcript

Podcast Episode 082 – Being a better listener by suspending shrewd judgement 

Daniel Kish:

I was born with bilateral retinoblastoma, retinal cancer. My right eye was removed at seven months of age. I was 13 months when they removed my left eye. The first thing I did upon awakening from that last surgery was to climb out of my crib and begin wandering around the intensive care nursery. Probably looking for the one who did this to me.

Daniel Kish:

Evidently wandering around the nursery was not a problem for me without eyes. The problem was getting caught. It’s impressions about blindness that are far more threatening to blind people than the blindness itself.

Oscar Trimboli:

Deep Listening, impact beyond words.

Oscar Trimboli:

Good day. I’m Oscar Trimboli and this is the Apple Award Winning podcast, Deep Listening. Designed to move you from a distracted listener to a deep and impactful leader. Did you know you spend 55% of your day listening yet only two percent of people have ever been taught how.

Oscar Trimboli:

In each episode we explore the five levels of listening. Communication is 50% speaking and 50% listening. Yet, as a leader you’re taught only the importance of communication from the perspective of how to speak. It’s critical you start to build some muscles for the next phase in how to listen.

Oscar Trimboli:

The cost of not listening, it’s confusion, it’s conflict, it’s projects running over schedule, it’s lost customers, its great employees that leave before they want to. When you implement the strategies, the tips and tactics that you’ll hear, you’ll get four hours a week back in your schedule. I wonder what you can do with an etra four hours a week.

Oscar Trimboli:

At the end of episode 74, unlock the ancient secrets between listening and breathing with James Nestor. I asked him a question, could he recommend any guest for the Deep Listening Podcast.

James Nestor:

Do you know these human echo locators, people who have been sometimes blind since birth who have managed to find their way around the world by listening very deeply to the echos of everything around them and they can actually quote, unquote, see things. I was sitting at a dining room table with this guy and he could see the difference between a tennis ball and a Rubik’s cube across the table. I think just knowing what you’re doing and how your end of the neuroscience of this, I think it would be fascinating to hear a listening expert like you talk to someone who’s listening in a completey different way and definitely has it figured out.

James Nestor:

Daniel Kish is his name. He’s a good friend, awesome guy. I think he will be absolutely blown away. This is a level of listening far beyond anything that sighted people do.

Oscar Trimboli:

Daniel has learned to see using a form of echo location. He clicks his tongue and sends flashes of sound that bounce off surfaces in the environment and return to him, helping him to construct an understanding of all the surfaces around him.

Oscar Trimboli:

Daniel’s got a brilliant TED Talk from 2015 that’s been viewed many millions of times. It explains and shows how to let go of your fears in the dark unknown. Daniel and I did this interview at the end of a sunny California summer day and he asked me if it’s okay for him to do the interview while he’s taking his afternoon walk.

Oscar Trimboli:

We did the whole interview via video so it was great to see Daniels cat in the video and also his southern California neighbourhood. Let’s listen to Daniel.

Oscar Trimboli:

What do you think the cost of not listening is?

Daniel Kish:

I think it’s tantamount to going through the world with your eyes half closed. All of the things that we are aware of through our senses, our senses are our connection to our environment, our senses are our connection to our world and to each other. The physical, the social, the informative, the symbolic world and I think all of the senses are critical. Whether it’s vision or hearing or touch, those are the big three that put us immediately in touch with the broad range of the environment.

Daniel Kish:

Good listening is one of our windows to our world.

Oscar Trimboli:

What frustrates you when other people don’t listen to you?

Daniel Kish:

I can remember one occasion when we were invited to Austria to work with a family and I think she was six at the time, six or possibly seven. The family was very open and they often are. If they make the invitation, they’re self selecting into the process but they often have really strong presumptions and projections and a lot of times they basically are thinking that we will fix the child. This whole echo location business is a magic pill in that we can just feed the child this pill and make blindness go away or become somehow more tolerable.

Daniel Kish:

Families can sometimes become a bit surprised and maybe put a little on the defensive when they find out that actually there’s some major adjustments that the family is going to have to make in order to bring this about. It often has to do with how they view the child. How they view blindness. One of the questions I often ask is simply, “How much freedom do you want your child to have?” That tends to really bring it to a point because there’s so many ways in which we, as parents, whether or not our children are blind, conduct ourselves relative to the child in ways that do not support a child’s freedom, do not support a child’s active intentional development toward their own freedom and certainly blind kids can be quite vulnerable to this.

Daniel Kish:

When you put the question in that way, you tend to catch people … it tends to lay bare the truth because most parents are not going to say I don’t really want my child to have freedom. That’s not normally what you hear. You normally hear a dialogue around what freedom is and what freedom means to them and how important it is to them. Now you start to lay open the dialogue about the relationship between blindness or their view of blindness and their concept of their child’s freedom.

Oscar Trimboli:

How much freedom do you want your child to have? A great example of a powerful hoe question. A question that’s a level three listening for their context. It’s the how question that opens up the backstory and all the environments around it. I was deliberate in listening to how Daniel skillfully uses powerful linguistic techniques during our discussion because James mentioned yes Daniel uses echo location and that’s not something you see and hear every day. Daniel’s listening is deep yet he’s consistently listening through level two, the content, level three, their context, level four, what they haven’t said and then finally level five, listening for [inaudible 00:08:47].

Oscar Trimboli:

Play a game and see if you can spot when in the dialogue Daniel’s listening at each of these levels.

Daniel Kish:

We were having those discussions, they were really uncomfortable with their little girl using her cane. They were hoping that if we could teach her echo location she really wouldn’t need to use her cane and what all of that meant and then of course I’m using my cane pretty much all of the time and along with echo location.

Daniel Kish:

I think for this particular family it hit home when we had gone to one of their Christmas festivals at Kris Kringle Market. They have these Christmas festivals, which ar amazing and there are lots of things to do and everyone is having a good time and it’s all very festively, ever festive … very European festive. Food and drink and everyone is merry. I went with him and I also had brought one of our instructors who was blind and who was in training at the time. It was the three of us and also the head of one of the schools for the blind in the area. We all went and the idea was we were new to Austria, they were showing us this really cool thing which was a very culturally specific thing. Which Juan and I have never experienced.

Daniel Kish:

We spent a couple of hours there I think. It was cold, that was part of the experience. It was cold so they served us warm punch, we’re drinking and we’re eating and we’re being merry and we’re looking at all the different things that they have there. At the end, the father of this girl, the girl was not with us but he had come, he said something like, “I’m ashamed to say that it never occurred to me to bring my daughter to one of these.”

Daniel Kish:

Well, your daughter is six or seven years old, this is Austrian culture, this is part of being Austrian. It never occurred to him to bring his blind daughter to one of thees things. That’s when I think the listening started to really break open and crack open when he realised, wait a minute this is important, this is really critical, deep stuff that we have to reexamine and we’ve brought someone 10,000 miles to help us reexamine this.

Oscar Trimboli:

We talk about listening to what people say but also listening for what they mean. When you pose the question, “What does freedom mean for your child?” What are you actually listening for?

Daniel Kish:

It’s a two way thing. I think the way we listen to the responses is important. I am not there to judge. I’m not there with an agenda. I’m there to facilitate an experience of learning which to me is different from teaching. I’m not there to put things into their head. I’m not there to dull things out into their environment. I’m there to help them draw things out of themselves so they can recreate their own environment, recreate their own situation, recreate their own understanding of their environment, to formulate their own relationship with their environment, with their blind child. A relationship of understanding their blind child’s association with the rest of the world.

Daniel Kish:

It’s all about helping people to construct their own understanding of their situation. It doesn’t usually help in my opinion, to try and fit my understanding over theirs. You never get a good fit that way. My approach to pedagogy is to really help people to develop and formulate and apply their own understanding and to essentially help them do that.

Oscar Trimboli:

It’s critical to notice Daniel’s adopting a perspective in the dialogue that’s not about him tr them. Rather, his perspective on how two people coming together to two families coming together can create a perspective in the dialogue that’s both productive and progressive. I think it’s this perspective from Daniel that highlights how much work he’s done at level one, listening to yourself. Daniel places so much emphasis on making sure that he’s available to listen to the other people in that preparation. You can hear how Daniel speaks from a place as he says, “No agenda. No judgement .”

Oscar Trimboli:

I have to say this is extremely rare and showcases how much level one is foundational to how we listen. If you have level one in place, you can create an environment that a successful listening environment for you and for them. It’s another reason why I can see why James Nestor said that Daniel’s one of the best listeners he’s ever seen in the world.

Daniel Kish:

It’s really important not to judge. It’s really important not to come in with presumptions and suppositions. We’re all human, we’re all going to do that to a degree so I have a double layer safeguard, if you will. The first is attempting not to do so. The second is realising that I will do so. The third is to put a question mark over any reaction that I have. The attitude by which we are open to what we receive and that’s really very critical because if we don’t have that openness, I don’t know what shape of information, what shape of experience, what shape of culture, what shape of consciousness they’re going to present me with. So I try not to assume a shape. I try to be open to whatever shape is presented and then receive that shape for whatever it is.

Daniel Kish:

It’s essentially meeting people on their page and then we can share pages. Then I can present them in a sharing sort of way, okay it just never occurred to you to bring your daughter to one of these things, why do you think that is? Make that a very open, friendly, good natured, non-threatening, non confrontational discussion, although there is room for friendly and good natured and well meaning confrontation as well, at times. It’s going to vary so much from person to person. We’ve worked with over 2,500 students and their families and we get 2,500 different presentations.

Daniel Kish:

There are some commonalities. Fear of one form or another, expressed in one way or another. You can pretty much count on that. There’s often a bit of resentment and it may not even be resentment of the blindness itself, it is often resentment of how their child has been treated as a result of their blindness. You might think that many families are resentful about their child being blind, that is often not the case. Often families have come to grips with that pretty well. Especially if their children have adapted well and have functioned well and a lot of the families we come into contact with are actually pretty much in the groove as far as their attitudes and really looking at their children in a proactive, prefunctional way.

Daniel Kish:

The impediment that they’re experiencing isn’t their child’s blindness, it’s often a sociocultural benefits that is placed against their children. Whether it’s in schools or in the immediate society or in how other professionals deal with their children or possibly a peer group although it isn’t usually a peer group, but it can be.

Oscar Trimboli:

When you were back in Austria, back at the [inaudible 00:17:52] at the Christmas festival-

Daniel Kish:

Yeah.

Oscar Trimboli:

… and you posed that question to the parent, I’m just curious what their response was about the daughter not being there.

Daniel Kish:

It was a combination of things and here you had a bit of a cultural clash. The family was in Austria and they lived in Austria, the child had always lived in Austria pretty much but the parents were not Austrian, they were from Bulgaria. You immediately have a bit of a friction between Bulgarian culture and Austrian culture and one of the reasons they relocated to Austria and brought their blind daughter to Austria was because quite simply, they felt she’d have a better life there. They felt she could get a better education there. They felt that she would have more opportunities in Austria than in Bulgaria.

Daniel Kish:

First was a bit of … I’ll call it shame and it’s also an unconscious discomfort. An apprehension about their blind daughter. An apprehension about displaying their blind daughter to so many people at one time. We’re just uncomfortable with that. We’re uncomfortable somehow with our daughter not being like everyone else here, at least that’s our perception, and it makes us uncomfortable. There’s a certain kind of fear there and there’s probably a better nuanced word than shame but I’m going to use shame with the caveat that there’s a shade to it that would make it difficult for them to actually use the word shame. They would never tell you we’re ashamed of our daughter, they wouldn’t say that. But there is that nuance.

Daniel Kish:

The second thing was a common myth, mistake, misconception that people often make is this is so visual, in order to appreciate this you have to be able to see it. A blind person just wouldn’t get anything out of this. Our blind daughter just wouldn’t get anything out of all of the coolness that exist in this festival because you’re looking around and you see this and you see that and it’s all very noisy and crowded and she’s just not going to enjoy it and she won’t get anything out of it anyway so why would we expose her to this. You hear that a lot and you as a family might come to understand and learn something about what she is getting out of this experience as a blind person. Juan and I thought it was a lot of fun and I’m as introverted as they go.

Daniel Kish:

I wouldn’t want to attend one of these festivals every day but it was certainly really cool to go and experience it. In their case it was those two things, there is often a third thing and that is the logistics. The idea that it’s just going to be hard. It will be hard to get her through. It will be hard to navigate her, to make sure she doesn’t get hurt or to make sure that she’s able to get through the crowds or to make sure that she’s able to eat her food without dropping it or whatever the imagined or real logistics are, there’s this feeling like it’s going to be too hard, it’s going got be too much trouble, we’re not really sure how to do it in a way that doesn’t put us uncomfortably on display. Yeah, we’re just going to decide not to do this.

Oscar Trimboli:

The original question you pose, “How much freedom do you want for your child?” What I’m curious about form a listening perspective on that is, how often do people ask the child?

Daniel Kish:

When I work with children I believe and I make every effort as a grown up who has very clear memories of being a child and who has worked a very great deal with children of all types of styles and backgrounds and ages, but is nonetheless a grown up. I make every effort to give full respect to each child to their way of thinking, to what they know, to what they learn, to what they bring to the table and do that in a way that is developmentally relevant.

Daniel Kish:

I will say I don’t bring an agenda, I value the child’s freedom, I value the child’s choices, I value what the child knows and thinks and feels and brings to the table and yet, at the same time I will do things like as we move through our process what I often find is that blind children are almost invariably guided too much and they’re guided in a way that robs them of their own self determination. They are guided in a way that actually does not support their freedom. They usually like it or they are conditioned to like it, this is a safe way to get around. It can be efficient, it can be effective but it’s only half the equation. The other half of the equation the child doesn’t even know. They cannot therefore make an informed decision. They cannot actually act out of freedom until they know the other half of that equation. I often find it necessary to open that door on behalf of the child.

Daniel Kish:

Sometimes amid violent protest, the guidance is removed. We suspend guidance for most of the time that I work with the child because I know that that is the only way to get the self guidance systems in the brain to react with me. It’s a bit like immersion therapy when you’re trying to teach someone a foreign language. You remove the native language for a period of time, the Brian learns to grasp the foreign language. It activates that component. Otherwise, you’re always stuck in this middle ground and you never really quite get the hang of it. We’re literally reacting brain regions and brain functions. I have ways of doing this that usually minimise the trauma, and you’ll get tantruming and you’ll get melting down and you’ll get protestations, it’s very, very important to respond to those very respectfully and to respond to those with deep understanding and compassion.

Daniel Kish:

We often work toward an agreement from a position of ardent disagreement but I have done this long enough that we almost invariably reach agreement. And then, now that we know, now that we realise what the other half of the equation is, now we really can make an informed decision. Now we really do have the freedom to choose.

Oscar Trimboli:

Recently I was working with a number of leaders in an organisation and they had questions about how to communicate COVID to their employees. We broke out into groups and one of the big things that came back was, the leaders were also struggling with how to explain COVID to their children. Their children’s age range was eight to 14. They all said they’re losing sleep about how and what to communicate, not only to their staff but also to their kids at home.

Oscar Trimboli:

They spoke about the tension when they anticipate all the overwhelming questions that could come and they’re embarrassment at their lack of answers. The question I posed to the group is, “Have you asked your kids what questions do they have?” Instantly I saw relief in their state, in their smile. I saw the light bulbs light up above their head where they have now a new perspective.

Oscar Trimboli:

One of the leaders spent that evening over the dinner table asking her three kids that very questions, what questions do you have. Not only was she relieved and surprised but she was also able to say, she didn’t know the answer to all the questions but she’d do her best to find out. That was good enough for her kids.

Oscar Trimboli:

There was a reason I ask Daniel, if he had asked the child to make the part of the process and I think the same is true for you. I think the same is true for you as a leader in the workplace. I think the same is true for you in your various situations that you’re listening in.

Oscar Trimboli:

These couple of questions I’m curious about and I’m curious how often you might be asking the speaker these three questions, how long have you been thinking about this? What have you explored so far? What else could you explore? These questions are examples of some of the question prompts you’ll find if you get the Deep Listening playing cards. The Deep Listening playing cards are available at OscarTrimboli.com/cards. I think inviting the speaker to be part of the solution is the most powerful way to have an impact beyond words.

Oscar Trimboli:

Let’s return to our discussion with Daniel where he explains how he worked with a family in England and the transformational impact he was able to have with their child.

Daniel Kish:

A boy in the UK, he was six years old, the family, I believe both mother and father had come to one of my presentations and they heard me, they were listening. I spoke for about two hours and they came up to me afterward and they were desperate for me to work with their son. I had no time or space, I basically had to really juggle things around to squeeze him in. It was in North England.

Daniel Kish:

The story they told me was that their son, until he was about two or so was actually … he was born blind but he was actually very mobile. The family was very proactive and progressive in getting him to be mobile. Really encouraging and facilitating his getting around, learning how to get around. They even got a cane for him and it’s very unusual for blind children in the UK to receive a cane, let alone cane training prior to the age of five or six or even later.

Daniel Kish:

This boy was a year old I think when he had his first cane and they were able to acquire one, they were not able to acquire instruction and he was doing great. He was getting around, he was mapping out his environment, he was curious, he got on with the world as a completely, totally congenitally blind child like a house on fire.

Daniel Kish:

When he started school, which I guess would have been around age four, they said, “No.” They said, “You can’t do any of those things.” Things that he was already doing. “You can’t do any of those things until you’ve received proper training.” They took his cane away and they taught him how to rail the walls with his hand and how to learn routes and how to square off, meaning you put your back to a wall, so if you need to get across open space the only way the traditional model has for you to get across open space is to put your back to the wall and walk forward and hope you’re walking a straight line because you’ve squared off to a flat surface. That kind of thing.

Daniel Kish:

They taught him a whole range of things that they call pre-cane skills and basically said you’ve got to master all of these things before you can use your cane and before you can have the freedom over your environment that frankly he’d already had. He had already mastered that.

Daniel Kish:

By the time the boy was six he lost interest. He had become very regimented, he had become very scripted about his approach to the environment. He was no longer curious about his surroundings. The cane that they had provided him was too short and he had become quite sedentary. He had been dependency conditioned, another term that was no coined by me but by another professional who wishes to remain nameless, is structured dis-empowerment. He had been structurally disempowered. Disabled is a term another parent used.

Daniel Kish:

These parents wanted their child back. That’s exactly the way they put it. “We want our child back.”

Daniel Kish:

I was able to carve out three days out of my schedule and work with him and by the second day they had their child back. He was running around, it was just a matter of unlocking all of these various restrictions that had been imposed on him categorically as a blind child and basically just letting him move freely.

Oscar Trimboli:

Later on you talked about suspending judgement when you ask questions to the parents. You said one of the things I need to do is suspend judgement . From a listening point of view, a lot of people in our group would say this is very hard to do. When you suspend judgement how do you notice that you’re in the state of suspension and when do you notice you are in the state of judgement when that happens?

Daniel Kish:

It becomes a listening to oneself. A listening to ones own responses to things. Catching when you … we all have a dialogue running in our heads and catching when that dialogue takes one a colour or flavour that seems to interfere with or fog up or go against what it is that this interaction is all about. Sometimes we miss it. Sometimes I’ll spend a day with a family and at the end of the day I’ll reflect, I always reflect, and I’ll think gosh I should have handled that differently or I should have responded to that differently or that didn’t make sense to me at the time but it makes sense to me now.

Daniel Kish:

I think the beginning of that process necessitates the intention that we openly, deliberately, intend to lift judgement , to suspend judgement . To put a question mark over everything we think we know because the minute we claim to know something we are boxing it in. We’re putting boundaries around what we claim to know, what we think we know. It’s not to say that we don’t have knowledge but knowledge is a fluid thing. It’s not a crystalline thing. Crystals grow too, crystals change too. If we’re unable to adjust, if we’re unable to be fluid, if we’re unable to adapt than we’re unable to learn.

Daniel Kish:

I’ve worked with some families where I tend to think about things holistically. I tend to take a very broad view of things and I see or at least think I see how things interconnect and how this effects that and that effects this. So there have been times when I’ve gone into families and the presenting issue was mobility, my son or daughter … in these two cases it was boys, are having trouble getting around the backyard or having trouble getting around the neighbourhood they’re having trouble learning street crossings. They’re just having some difficulties with spacial relationships.

Daniel Kish:

There have been a couple of occasions where I looked at the situation like there are lots of things working here and there are lots of things that need to be overhauled. I jumped into, well this leads to this, leads to this, leads to this, leads to this, we have to redo all of this. We have to rethink all of this. We have to reshuffle all of this. I got a lot of pushback from the family and I came to realise the way I was approaching their situation had missed the point. I was failing to see some of the important trees for the forest. I was looking at it ecologically but you can’t lose sight of the main concern. I attempted to effect the tectonics of a system when the main concern was a certain symptom, if you will, in pushing in the direction that I felt we needed to go. That I had decided we needed to go. I lost a certain degree of credibility with both families.

Daniel Kish:

This boy was nine at the time. He’s now fully grown, he’s at university. I think he was nine at the time and I had worked with him annually since he was four, he had just turned four. He was actually making a lot of progress. He was doing really well in lots of ways. I was looking at lots of nips and tucks in various areas that I felt fed into his mobility, his relationship with space. At one point the parents left for some reason. They asked if I wouldn’t mind watching their kid and I said, “It’s fine.” He had a friend over and it was easy enough.

Daniel Kish:

I was just watching some of his interactions, there was some interactions that he had with his friend that were socially stressful, there was some things he didn’t know about … things like how the kitchen was laid out. When it came to getting a glass for a beverage, he didn’t know where the glasses were. So his friend had to go find glasses. There were things he didn’t know about where certain things were in the house that I felt he should know. At a later occasion when we were at his grandparents house there were things he didn’t know. He didn’t seem to know how to get around his grandparents house and he’d been to his grandparents house many times.

Daniel Kish:

As I started to enumerate these things and how I wanted to connect these things, I got a lot of pushback and I think the feeling was that I was digging too deeply into some personal stuff and too deeply into some areas that wasn’t really a concern. They just felt like these things would sort themselves out. Mostly their concern was outdoor mobility, mobility in the home that’s going to set itself right, mobility around his grandparents house that’s going to set itself right, even if it doesn’t there’s always someone there to facilitate. Their concern was more about the outside environment, more about street crossings, more about getting around in the larger world and the larger environment.

Daniel Kish:

I was pushing into areas that they just felt like they had covered. They are fully well aware that it’s not going to be possible for me to be all things to all people, nor for them to be all things to every aspect of his life. They were picking and choosing those areas that they really wanted me to focus on and I was pressing into those areas that they really didn’t feel I needed to focus on, that they really felt like they had covered. At the end of the day I agreed with them.

Oscar Trimboli:

A great explanation from Daniel. He’s described beautifully the shroud villain of listening. One of the four listening villains, anticipating issues based on the expertise of the shroud listener. Unfortunately, all they do is anticipate what they think they’re an expert in and Daniel gave such a beautiful, beautiful explanation of the cost of being a shroud listener and getting into your solution rather than actually listening to their problem.

Oscar Trimboli:

Don’t you love the way Daniel explained that although the home environment was important, it was mobility outside the home that was ultimately the issue. A great example of the true villain of listening.

Oscar Trimboli:

Would you like to learn a bit more about what gets in your way when it comes to listening? One of the barriers that are stopping you from completely listening to yourself and to the other person, go and visit listeningquiz.com. That’s listeningquiz.com and take the seven minute assessment and you’ll receive a unique report with three tailored actions to help you move from a distracted listener to a deep and impactful listener.

Speaker 5:

Wow, this quiz is like magic. It takes just a few minutes but the results make it feel like Oscar’s been listening to me for a lifetime. It’s hard to believe how accurately this quiz highlights the seemingly small things that I do that get interested eh way of me being a better listener and already I’m starting to notice when my listening villains begin to creep into my work conversations and I can now recognise when I’m not listening as well or as deep as I could be. Thanks Oscar.

Daniel Kish:

I approach social situations with let’s just call it a highly developed capacity to listen, to hear, to hear nuances. Nuances of speech, nuances of movement, to be able to connect word to phrase, to connect semantics to meaning, to connect shades of understanding because arguably as a blind person communicating in this way I must learn to do this to be effective. Its different roads to a similar place.

Oscar Trimboli:

Daniel, how do you think you listen differently to me?

Daniel Kish:

People rarely monitor the way they speak as much as the way they monitor the way they look. The way they express themselves visually. There’s this thing called a mirror and there’s this thing called modelling and as we move more and more and more into site centrism as a modern culture, we’re really, really focused in on photos and selfies and mirrors and watching each other and comparing each other.

Daniel Kish:

We’re paying even less and less attention I would say, to what we say, how we say it, how we phrase it, how we express it. A really good example is in modern politics. There’s so much visualism in modern politics and yet somehow we’ve all become very numb to what people are actually saying and how they’re actually saying it. That’s just a very, very blatant example but I think those examples subtly play out in so many different ways.

Daniel Kish:

I feel as if I’m able to get into the genuineness of people or in-genuineness of people through what they say and how they say it without being beguiled by the way we express ourselves visually, consciously or unconsciously how we modulate that to others and to ourselves that I think often belies the true consciousness behind what it is that we’re expressing. It’s commonly said, this thing about 80% of communication is visual, so we want to say that … I think that’s an extremely sightest thing to say because I think we simply have decided not to bother to understand and therefore account for all of the layers and nuances of communication that are not visual which concerns us all. It limits everyone. If we’re only going to say 80% is visual then we’re going to assume that only 20% isn’t visual, but what if that’s not true?

Daniel Kish:

If that’s not true then we’re short-changing everyone. We’re certainly short-changing blind people by saying or at least implying as a blind person you only have access to 20% of the communication process.

Daniel Kish:

In Australia, for example, it is very difficult for a blind person to become a licenced psychologist. I hear story after story of blind person who has attempted to become a licenced psychologist and denied licensure on the basis that they wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively. That’s an Australian thing. In the States it’s no problem, in the UK it’s no problem, actually in most places it’s no problem. The only two countries I’ve ever seen it be a problem were Australia and Bosnia. It’s not evidence based. There’s no evidence to state this categorically. Even if we could argue and somehow prove that 80% of communication is visual, to put it simply, what we’re saying is if that is true for sighted people, it may be true for sighted people, but it may not be true for blind people and we’re all missing an important opportunity to not study that and to not give that recognition.

Oscar Trimboli:

What would be three tips that you would give people to how to improve their listening?

Daniel Kish:

Make an intention of not judging. Let’s just assume that we’re all judgemental and that we can change how judgemental we are. If we just make that assumption then we can work on making that adjustment. I like to think that anyone can do that.

Daniel Kish:

Another thing is try to hear something new every day and maybe even journal that. One of the things that’s interesting about proficient echo locators, and studies do show this although they haven’t been published yet, but data are being collected the echo locators are much more able, with an order of magnitude, 10 times more able to extract a stimulus or a signal from the noise. Basically to recognise a sound that they are desiring to find or look for or recognise or identify from a much greater amount of noise than your typical person is able to do. The reason we can do that is because we do that every day. We echo locate every day.

Daniel Kish:

I think that if a person practised listening to their environment and identifying something they’ve ever noticed before and maybe even is jotting that down.

Daniel Kish:

A third one, try closing your eyes when you’re in communication with someone. I have heard many people say this that once they get on track to improving listening, etcetera, and this idea of improving listening that they are able to expand their attention and awareness by closing their eyes and listening to people just by listening to people. I cannot speak to that from personal experience obviously but I hear it comes highly recommended.

Oscar Trimboli:

Yes Daniel, and this tip comes highly recommended from one of your friends in episode 74, guest James Nestor who introduced us together. Little did I know, that when James and I did the interview he conducted the entire interview with his eyes completely closed.

Oscar Trimboli:

For me, listening is the willingness to have your mind changed and today my mind was changed by Daniel, especially as it relates to the role of judgement in a discussion. My judgement , your judgement , and our judgement. Judgement can be a significant barrier to a productive and progressive conversation. I love the way that Daniel is conscious of the need to suspend judgement and the process he goes through in preparing before the conversation to make sure he’s conscious about what judgments he’s bringing so he can leave them behind.

Oscar Trimboli:

Equally, I admire his reflective practise. At the end of the conversation and at the end of the day. These are practises I will be looking to add to my own kit bag when it comes to becoming a deeper listener.

Oscar Trimboli:

You get an opportunity to listen a little bit more at the end of this conversation because I asked Daniel, who James said is one of the best listeners he’s ever seen in the world, to notice how I listened and what I listened for. For me it’s always remarkable for others to talk about the way I listen and how others listen as well. It’s a game I always play. I think having other people evaluate my listening is a great practise for me to get better and I think it’s a parallel process to what James was doing. It’s a way for me to have a reflective practise that’s set a standard by others rather than by me.

Oscar Trimboli:

I think another form of a listening is reviews. Product reviews and recently I had the opportunity to speak at a global summit, it was called The G2 Reach Conference. It’s a free event, by the way you could go to the reach.g2.com and the conference has got all the event recorded, there’s over 100 speakers speaking on a range of topics from sales and marketing and operational leadership and a really deliberately diverse range of speakers that has being curated by the G2 team.

Oscar Trimboli:

G2.com is a company that is all about listening. It’s a company that creates review systems for organisations to listen to their customers and for other customers or possibly perspective customers to understand how good products are. This review site is specifically aimed at business to business products rather than people who might consume products individually.

Oscar Trimboli:

Did you know you can create a review for the Deep Listening Podcast? You can do that on your favourite app. Rob from New Zealand, thank you. He’s put together a review for the podcast that he popped up there recently. He says, “This podcast shows you the power of listening can be applied anywhere. Experts from different fields talk about how they listen throughout their day. It doesn’t matter what you do, there’s something to learn here from everybody. I’ve been a terrible listener for much of my life but I feel this is helping me to improve.” He also mentions, “Oscar has a quiz on his website where you can figure out what kind of listener you are and what you can do about it.”

Oscar Trimboli:

Gordon from the UK says, “This is a first class podcast. Working in law enforcement I often get frustrated with distractions, not being a listened to, not having time to spend listening to people. Now, I’ve come to realise it’s not the job itself that’s responsible for this but it’s helped me to realise that the issue is something we’re all responsible for.”

Oscar Trimboli:

This review is from Ireland and it’s got a name that ZZ Audio. I’m sure that’s a code name or maybe it’s a pet name for somebody but the review from Ireland says, “This podcast is about how to really improve your listening. I’ve been a subscriber to Oscar’s podcast for over a year now and I can say it’s firmly installed as one of my top 10 podcast that I listen to every fortnight. There’s a number of episodes that I return to and re listen.” ZZ Audio I’d loved to know which podcast episodes they are, send me an email, podcast@oscartrimboli.com and let me know which ones are the ones you go back to. I’ll be really curious. “When I return to re listen, it’s got such an impact on me. If you really want to interrupt your poor listening habits …” Love what you just did there. “… if you really want to interrupt your poor listening habits start to relearn the skills you were once good at. Then the podcast should be put in your queue. While worth looking at Oscar’s website, his listening cards are an excellent tool for teams in the office.”

Oscar Trimboli:

If you’ve received something useful from this episode with Daniel, please tell a friend or write a review on your favourite podcast app. I’m Oscar Trimboli and I’m on a quest to create a 100 million Deep Listeners in the world. Thanks for listening.

Oscar Trimboli:

For the audience, they can hear you and me and I’m a bit curious how you would describe my vocals, my language patterns, and the nuances that you’ve listened and noticed over the last hour.

Daniel Kish:

You’re cultured. So you’ve had experience with vocal modulation to some degree. Your inflexion is good. I used to spend a lot of time in Australia so there was a time when I was much more attuned to dialect and perhaps a time when I might have been able to place your region. You’ve given several indications that you communicate conscientiously that there is a genuine conscientiousness behind the way you communicate, maybe that’s your professional persona, it’s often difficult for people to just turn that off and on. You have been careful to approach me with sensitivity to my background and to how I might approach things or view things and you’ve made an intent to do so.

Daniel Kish:

I think the thing that stands out most to me is your … yeah, your conscientiousness in how you communicate and if you’re conscientious in how you express yourself then you are likely to be conscientious in how you receive that which is expressed to you.

 

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