Discover your Listening Villain
Apple Award Winning Podcast
Podcast Episode 085: Hidden Secrets of how to Listen for non-verbals

Subscribe to the podcast

Michael Grinder has over 40 years of experience training thousands of groups. Known as the pioneer of nonverbal communication, Michael helps executives and educators assess people more accurately and connect with others more deeply.

Two well-known experts personally trained Michael in the field of communication: Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, and Michael’s brother, Dr. John Grinder, co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.  

Over his career, Michael has written 14 books, which have been translated into seven languages.  

The book that caught my attention is The Elusive Obvious the science of non-verbal communication.

It outlines Four distinct patterns – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and breathing.  

Together with explore these patterns of express in and storing information.

We cover the role of subjects and objects in discussions through the lens of points of focus. 

Michael and I start off discussing the ways people process and store communications.

Transcript

Podcast Episode 085 – Hidden Secrets of how to Listen for non-verbals

Oscar Trimboli:

Deep Listening: Impact Beyond Words. 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 2% of people have every been taught how? 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. The cost of not listening? It’s confusion. It’s conflict. It’s projects running over schedule. It’s lost customers. It’s 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 could do with an extra four hours a week?

Oscar Trimboli:

Michael Grinder has over 40 years experience training thousands of people all around the world. Known as the pioneer of non-verbal communication, Michael helps executives and educators assess people more accurately and connect with others more deeply. Trained by two world renowned experts in the field, Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, and his brother, Dr. John Grinder, co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Over his career, Michael has written 14 books, which have been translated into seven languages. The book that caught my attention, The Elusive Obvious: The Science of Non-verbal Communications, it outlines four distinct patterns in how we explore the world and store the world: Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and our breathing. We cover the role of subjects and objects in discussion through the lens of points of focus. Michael and I started off by discussing the way people process and store communications. Let’s listen to Michael.

Michael Grinder:

When people are interacting with reality, about 65% of all their information comes in through their eyes. It’s not so much the four styles that they bring it in. It’s more the four styles that they store it in. Even if they see something, they may store it in terms of a taped memory of it. It may be a visceral internal feeling that they have, or they may actually remember, “I was breathing high or breathing very calm,” so that you store in either what you see, what you hear, remember, what you feel internally/externally, and then how are you breathing? Those are the four modalities, if you want to call it that, that you store information in.

Michael Grinder:

What’s amazing to me, Oscar, is some people will store it in one system, but when they go to share with other people, they’ll switch to another system. That’s, to me, just absolutely fascinating how everyone is unique in terms of how they do it. Your area of listening, most people are going to think, “Wow. That’s what you do with your ears,” but it’s actually what you do with your whole body. Are you leaning forward? Are you being attentive? Are you nodding? Are you making encouraging sounds? “Mm-hmm (affirmative). Uh-huh.” Are your eyes indicating that you’re preset? You can have the four modalities outside, or you can have them inside. Knowing you go to share whatever you’ve learned, you can switch it again.

Oscar Trimboli:

We often aren’t even conscious of how people present that in their language. If someone is retrieving something from visual storage, what sorts of language would they be using?

Michael Grinder:

They would normally sprinkle the information with high emotional words. They could have a picture in their mind, but they could say, “We need to tighten our belts, folks. We have a situation going on with a world trying to stay safe,” so what we have to do is we have to lock ourselves in. Any kind of physical, if you want to call it, muscular words would be an indication that they’re bringing it down through the kinesthetics.

Oscar Trimboli:

If I used the phrase, like what I picture in my mind at the moment is a map.

Michael Grinder:

That would be visual. We would say, “Listen to the predicates that people are saying, and you’ll know where they’re drawing it out of, where they’re retrieving it from.” What I personally find is it is so cultural. The more educated you are, the more you will tend to use visual words. Can you picture … Here is an image I want you to have in your mind, and you would think that would be visual, but it could be cultural visual. Do the eyes support the predicates that they’re saying? Is their body lean such? Is their voice pattern rolling or is it flat? Live communication is so much more accurate than a transcription of.

Oscar Trimboli:

What sort of language examples would I be using for auditory and kinesthetics?

Michael Grinder:

Listen to what I want to tell you. This is something I’ve wanted to share with you for some time. Open up your ears, and make sure that I can give you an impression, almost like a tape recording, of the following statement. I would caution people. Be careful if you do not have any non-verbal input with the predicates, so at least over the phone would be better than transcription, and Zoom always gives you more information than if you’re just listening to it. Kinesthetics would be, again going back to the muscular, anything that would be physical. Can you wrap your arms around the following idea? This is something I want you to carry away, and you’ll find helpful in life.

Oscar Trimboli:

So, the first step in the journey as a learner in this approach is noticing how the other speaks and retrieves that information. How conscious does the counterparty need to be about the language they use in noticing either matching styles o contrasting styles?

Michael Grinder:

Statistically, if you match the other person’s style, the rapport, the safety, the cooperation, the collaboration, statistically it’s higher. If you don’t have permission from someone else and you match their style, you may actually lose even more permission or receptivity. The more you have permission and the more you match, the more you have even greater permission. The more you don’t have permission and you match, and they breathe high, it would be better to stop mirroring and matching them, because you’re only going to dig the hole that you’re in even deeper than you were in. “Digging the hole deeper,” there’s a kinesthetics expression.

Oscar Trimboli:

I’ve been in a situation where I’ve gone to buy a new car with my wife, and the salesperson was mirroring my behaviour and my preferences, yet my wife was the buyer. All he did was frustrate her, and it was perceived as completely disingenuous. I’d love you to deconstruct that one.

Michael Grinder:

There are four floors to the house of communication. The first floor is what we say, so it’s just the verbiage. The second floor is how we deliver it. This is the output of what you look like, what you sound like, how are you moving, and how are you breathing. That’s powerful, and that’s what we try to capture in our book called The Elusive Obvious. Subtitle, The Science of Non-verbal Communication. What we find is that you got to go up to that third floor and the fourth floor to get a full understanding. The first two floors, we call the science of communication. What are you saying, and how are you delivering it?

Michael Grinder:

The third floor is where you enter the [inaudible 00:09:31], and that is perception. How’s the other person doing? That’s what you were saying, Oscar. Do we need to be aware of the other person when we’re mirroring and matching? Absolutely. Then, the last floor is called permission. Permission is who gets to say what, and when do they get to say it? You being there with your wife, and she was the buyer, and the salesperson was trying to establish rapport with you. That’s lack of permission. Each floor supersedes the floor below, so no matter how good you are, if you don’t have permission, it just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. Now, there’re all kinds of ways to increase your permission level, but those are the four floors of the house of communication.

Oscar Trimboli:

One of the first one of those techniques that you explore in the book around visual are the four points of focus. What tips would you give people thinking about those four points?

Michael Grinder:

We have two people, and they’re looking at each other. Because there’s two parties, we’re going to call eye contact two point communication. If we have two people, and one of them looks at a piece of paper, and does it in such a way so that the other person looks at the piece of paper, we now have one, two, the third entity. The opposite of eye contact is called three point communication. In general, when you’re making eye contact, any emotion, positive or negative, tend to increase. When you’re looking at a piece of paper, any emotion, positive or negative, tend to decrease.

Michael Grinder:

If you go for a walk, go by a dog that’s safely inside of a chain link fence, and walk by the dog three different ways. Go by the dog and look at the dog. Notice how long and how loud the dog barks. Then, go by the dog and do not look. How long does the dog, volume and length? Then, the third time, walk by and use a guttural kind of voice. Look at them and say, “Good dog. Really good dog,” and you’ll notice that the more you make eye contact, the more the emotions go up in the dog as well as you. The rule of thumb is if you have something that’s very positive that you’re sharing with someone else, do two point. If you’re doing something that’s volatile, do a three point. Now, in the area that you specialise in, not just listening but deep listening, the more that someone shares information with you that is volatile, and does it through a third point, the more you can hear because you’re breathing lower.

Michael Grinder:

I’m thinking especially of doctor visits. Doctors are trained in high empathy. They will tend to lean forward as they’re trying to say, “Thank you for coming,” and they’re saying, “I hate to tell you this, but you have X.” Now, that doctor is well intended, but that doctor is actually driving their message farther into you because of the eye contact, whereas if the doctor had said, “Now, thanks for coming. We’re going to be looking at some x-rays,” and then they turn and they look at the x-ray, especially if they use their arm closest to you, the listener, you’ll be able to focus on the bad news and a third point, so that when the doctor comes back and says, “And what we’re going to do about that,” the doctor is not contaminated. We had separated the messenger from the message.

Oscar Trimboli:

This reminded me of my interview with Vanessa Oshima from Episode 28, when she goes to visit her doctor.

Vanessa Oshima:

I remember when I walked into the office, ready to get my test results, and I did have my husband with me. I was expecting it to be good news. “Oh. It’s just this kind of benin lump. The biopsy has come back, and it’s all kind of …” I convinced myself that it was going to be fine, so I hadn’t actually prepared myself for anything other than, “Oh. It’s a benin lump.” When I saw my doctor the first, not the actual surgeon who ended up operating me, but the doctor who needed to tell me my results, she just said, “So, you’ve got cancer.” That was the first word out of her mouth, and I just went blank.

Vanessa Oshima:

I just couldn’t. It was the air conditioning became really loud, and it was all just buzzing. I couldn’t understand. She’d gone into communication mode of, “The position where it is, this is what we need to do. You need to get your MRI. You need to do this so we can determine the size, the spread.” She was systematically going through what she needed to communicate to me, ticking off the boxes, and saying, “The earliest we can get you in to surgery given the process you have to go through is six weeks from now. That would be this date. Are you free this date?”

Vanessa Oshima:

I just go back at, “What do you mean I have cancer?” She has just moved on into her [inaudible 00:15:09] stuff, and I’m just still at the, “No. I don’t have cancer.” My husband just grabbed my hand, and he was taking all the notes. He was texting my friends and communicating.

Oscar Trimboli:

What a great contrast between Michael’s example about three point communication versus Vanessa’s doctor, to-the-point, two point communication, which disconnected her completely from what she was being told. I wonder how you apply two and three point communications. I wonder if you’ve noticed anybody ever using it with you. I wonder if you haven’t used it and noticed the consequences. Email podcast@oscartrimboli.com if you’ve used it, applied it, or seen somebody who’s done that. Email podcast@oscartrimboli.com if you’ve got a great suggestion for a guest, or email podcast@osccartrimboli.com if you’d like to share some feedback, either in writing or as Lucio is doing right now. Lucio recorded this message after he’d listened to Episode 81 with Chase Hughes. Now, the Deep Listening Podcast promises really simple, if you listen deeply, you’ll save time and you’ll make a big impact. Let’s listen to Lucio’s. He talks about how much time he saved by listening deeply in only one meeting.

Lucio:

Hello. Oscar, this is Lucio. I’m one of the listeners of Deep Listening Podcast. Today, I’d like to say thank you. I listened to the Episode 81, where you interviewed Chase Hughes. I had a meeting where I was pitching a workshop with a business, and that meeting was [inaudible 00:17:07] by two other people. One was the CEO, and the other person was the head of the department. I listened to the podcast on that day, this episode, Episode 81. You really got my attention, just specifically studying the attention to pronouns that other people use. I listen to where people be talking about themselves, they talk about their teams, they talk about all the people, and how we use pronouns.

Lucio:

When I took this Zoom meeting, I had this newly gained learning skills, and I [inaudible 00:17:42] to listen to these pronouns and understanding the omitted language that could possibly change my meeting outcomes. It was super interesting for the first time having these meetings and planning and understanding the pronouns these people use, and how I could really distinguish the behaviour from the CEO and the language they’re using, and the language from the head of the department. While the CEO was using language or pronouns of “we”, and referring quite often to him as the head of the department, the head of the department was utilising the language “I”, so clearly I could understand that their meeting was specifically paraded to fulfil a need of the head of the department.

Lucio:

My meeting was a sale meeting [inaudible 00:18:32] by just being patient to the [inaudible 00:18:35] of their words, by the middle of the meeting I knew based on the CEO’s affiliation of his speech and the switch to more casual words, that I already had sold. My workshop is for guests about 30 hours, and just applying what I had learned from this podcast, the cadency but also understanding the [inaudible 00:18:56] and pronouns, I believe that I might have saved half of this time, about 15 hours, excluding out the briefing. It also allowed me to go to end this meeting in a much more positive manner, as I spend half of the meeting not selling any longer, but I’m just talking about how we’re going to get it done.

Oscar Trimboli:

Lucio, thanks for sharing that feedback. I love receiving it, because it’s great for me, but it’s great that everybody else can hear it, and maybe they can pick it up and apply it themselves. These marvellous examples from our Deep Listening community help everybody notice something about their listening in a completely different way. Our promise is if you apply the tools and the techniques, if you use the techniques on a daily basis, you will save four hours a week in your schedule. I wonder what you could do with an extra four hours a week in your schedule? Now, let’s return to Michael, discussing how he applied three point communication in these discussions with himself, and how he can make a difference between who he is and what his behaviours are.

Michael Grinder:

Whether that’d be at home, in terms of medical, in terms of corporate communication … If we could just please go visual with information that is volatile and look at the information, you’re going to find that you preserve relationships so much more so that, “Darth Vader, it’s over there. It’s not us.” Especially, if I may, please if you do any performance review, please separate the person from their behaviour. When you do that, their motivation is so much higher.

Michael Grinder:

I’ve had to figure out that I used to talk to myself, “I am,” and if it wasn’t a positive trait, I was limiting what I could do in life. My self image was hampered. I switched over to, “I have.” I used to say, “I am dyslexic.” Now I say, “I have to be careful with numbers, because they sometimes switch on me.” I used to say, “I’m asthmatic.” Now I have to say, “I have to be careful around dust and seasonal allergies, and then other things.” I used to say, “I’m ADHD.” Now I say, “I have to make sure I exercise. I got on the treadmill. Did 45 minutes today in order to make sure I slow down my body. I listen better as an ADH tendency better if I exercise on a regular basis.”

Oscar Trimboli:

Thank you. Great examples. I want to highlight the way there was congruency when Michael moved into the role of the doctor, and he was pointing with his near side arm to the x-ray. Michael makes the point in his book about the incredible importance of congruence. If there’s incongruity between what’s said and how it’s said, the relationship goes down, and the effectiveness of the communication declines. Michael, just spend a little bit of time talking about the hand gestures.

Michael Grinder:

When people talk with their palm down, their voice for some reason at the end of whatever you say, your chin would tend to drop down. We just ask our listeners, “Get a mirror. Look in the mirror. Talk with your hand, and if your palm goes down as you talk, your chin will come down with your hand. If you have your palm up, for some reason your chin will tend to come up as you say it.” Australians are probably the most beloved Western world travellers that we have, because their voice culturally rolls up so that no one ever sees them as a threat. They’re seen as cooperative, friendly, and they’re always welcome wherever they go in the Western world.

Oscar Trimboli:

One of the noticing’s you would like people to make is that these rules are general and generic, but they don’t necessarily always translate across cultures. One of the things I’m conscious of in my face to face workshops, in particular when I’m working with people from high context cultures, like China, Korea, and Japan, is the noticing of my own hand gestures. They tend to soften. They tend to tighten. They tend to come closer to my body as opposed to a Western audience where the expressions can be wider, fuller, and more beach ball rather than volleyball kind of style differences there. Have you got any tips there as hand gestures translate across cultures?

Michael Grinder:

If we look at our four categories of non-verbal communication, their appearance, their voice, and their body, until you understand the culture, it’s really difficult to interpret what it stands for. Instead of that, there’s another way of thinking about it that I would recommend. It’s not that necessarily people listening to this would be able to see, that it would be for those people that are listening … They can reinforce it this way. If you want to understand either an individual or a culture, try to figure out the baseline of what do most people look like, what most people sound like, how they move, and literally how they breathe.

Michael Grinder:

Once you have that as a baseline, I would strongly suggest that any time there is a change in terms of, for instance, speed or volume increase in the voice, the person is marking off that whatever they’re saying they would really like you to hear that. So, whatever they say that’s a constant face, voice, body, that’s really the baseline. It’s the background. It’s the noise. If you want to know the fore ground, they’ll mark it off. In most of the Western world, when you increase your volume in your voice, you’re trying to become emphatic. If you decrease your volume in your voice, you’re marking off also, but I want to suggest it’s a deeper level of the human being. A drop of volume and speed often times is more vulnerability.

Oscar Trimboli:

And we drop volume and speed even further to explore silence and the pause, thinking about silence and the pause through your two dimensions of credibility and approachability.

Michael Grinder:

One of the people that I absolutely love is Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, in which she explores the bias that the Western world currently, not necessarily in the past, has towards extroverts. When people are talking a lot, the more it is more difficult for the listener to mark off what they’re actually saying that is important. In a five minute spiel, maybe you have a total of 20 seconds that are marked off, and if you know what is marked off, you really have the essence in terms of the value and emotions of the person who did the speaking.

Michael Grinder:

I would strongly suggest for those that are not familiar, please really consider Susan Cain’s book Quiet, in which she explores is it possible for people that are introverts to have credibility also. I want to suggest not necessarily when you’re meeting people you don’t know, but anyone that knows you, they have calibrated to your very quiet voice. Even coming up just a little bit is an indication of, “Hey. Pay attention.” So, if we go back to baseline, I think we do not have to go back to the bias towards extroverts. We can just understand the individual.

Michael Grinder:

When I’m in Asia, especially working through an interpreter, I have to respectfully watch the person who’s speaking in the language I don’t know. Normally, I will set up a signal, and I would just have my hand tap the side of the body of the interpreter every time the person who spoke changes their baseline, so that later they can tell me what was that word or phrase. That was the key. I can get in an interpretation from the interpreter of all thee language, but that’s not the same in terms of the emotion.

Oscar Trimboli:

When can pause be used effectively in dialogue?

Michael Grinder:

The pause, I want to suggest, is probably the starting point of all communication from a non-verbal standpoint. I offer you this. I don’t know if you can see it. If you can, can you read it, Oscar?

Oscar Trimboli:

It says, “Pause is the single most essential non-verbal signal.”

Michael Grinder:

How do you separate all the background noise from what you want to saliently, blatantly communicate? We suggest very strongly that if you want to communicate, everything starts with you have to gesture. If you gesture, and you make sure that as you talk you move your hands, make sure that when you come to your pause, keep your hand frozen. Don’t move it until you’re going to talk again.

Michael Grinder:

You can look at all the TED Talks you want. Just watch their hands. That frozen hand during the pause indicates I have more to say, but it also does something else that I think is so important as communicators. We know that human beings can only pick up about three to five new ideas. You and I are going to be talking for 45 minutes. The frozen hand during the pause will unite whatever was said before the pause with whatever is said after the pause, so it’s one congruent, integrated concept. If people talk and drop their hands, what will happen is they’re separating the concept of what they just said before with what they’re saying afterwards.

Oscar Trimboli:

Coming up, Michael is about to reference two different people, the first a speech by 10 year old, Dalton Sherman, speaking to a stadium full of teachers from the Dallas Independent School District. It’s an eight minute masterclass in the use of gesture and pause. The second Nobel Peace winner, Malala Yousafzai, speaking in 2013 to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, where he speaks about her home, the Swat Valley. Both are copyrighted recordings, so if you want to look at them, you can just scroll to the show notes, and we’ll include the links there.

Michael Grinder:

Two people. One is a fellow, and he is a 10 year old boy in Dallas, Texas, talking to 20,000 teachers before the school years starts. His use of hand gestures is impeccable. The other one is Malala on the Jon Stewart show. She’s 13 years old. She’s seated, so she’s not standing, but her hands are impeccable in terms of what she does. I study people, and I especially like turning the volume off and just going, “Did they freeze their facial expression? Did they freeze their hand? Did they freeze their volume?”, so that when they come out of that pause, they can either go back to the same, they can spike, or they can descend. In either case, just during the pause you get to decide, “What do I do next with the information with what I just did?”

Oscar Trimboli:

Michael, can we go back to the use of body gestures and the integration of two and three point communications for a moment?

Michael Grinder:

I’m talking about past 45 minutes, and you’re going to be speaking, make sure that you have your marker. Make sure that you understand that two point is when I look at the audience. A three point is when I look at something that is on the paper. You mentioned, “What is a one point?” There are certain times when I’m going to say something here that is going to be negative, such as, “Our revenue is down by 15%.” Now, once I finish that, I want to be connected with that, so in order to break the association of the viewers with what I’m doing and what I want to do next, I go ahead and look down, but I don’t look down in shame.

Michael Grinder:

I look down at the floor, but I stand upright. I walk over to a new location, I come up, and now I talk. “What are we going to do,” turn and look, “at that?” So, looking down allows you to separate what you just said from what you want to say next. In other words, your person in your position can be different. The fourth point is anything that’s not close. Sometimes you can say, “Our customers out there,” and you look out to the wall that is nearest, “Our customers out there have indicated.” Four point is farther away, and if you want, you can really watch people in terms of especially church. I mean this very, very respectfully. You can have people that are going to go like this, “We all want to get to heaven.” Heaven is a four point, but what they’ll do is they’ll take their hand, consciously or unconsciously, and say, “We all,” and bring their hand back to their torso.

Michael Grinder:

They’ll have their head dropped before their head and hand goes out to heaven. What they’re indicating is, “You get to heaven through me,” and that’s a non-verbal communication that you probably would not have permission to say out loud, but it’s nice for you to understand the import of your non-verbals. The same thing is true if I go, “And the Lord said to us …” If you have your hand go from where we represent heaven as four point to the two point of the congregation in front of you, that’s pretty clean communication. If the person takes their hand, looks at heaven, brings their hand down to their torso, has their head dropped, and then have their hand come out as they say, “And the Lord said to us,” what the person is communicating is, “What I say is what the Lord says.”

Michael Grinder:

You can actually watch people, how they hold The Bible, how they hold any kind of a programme, and they can literally go like this, “You all want to be wealthy. This is what you can actually achieve,” and you point to a flip chart, a PowerPoint, that has statistics of what your income is going to increase by. Instead of going from your hands from audience over to the third point, if you bring it through your body and bring it back out, you’re indicating, “You’ll achieve it by listening to me.” It’s not a question of, “Do we do it consciously or not?” The question is, “What effect does it have on other people?” In my world at least, intention is not sufficient. You have to be skilled in and be [inaudible 00:36:03] with non-verbals if you want to be ethical.

Oscar Trimboli:

What is jet eye as it relates to group dynamics?

Michael Grinder:

The difference between when to act approachable and when to act credible. We came up with the idea that there are four phases of the decision making process, and it spells the letters G-E-D-I, and it stands for Gathering, Evaluating, Deciding, and Implementing. When we’re doing gathering, you’re basically doing brainstorming. The more someone has non-verbals of being a good listener, “Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ah-ha,” and making sure that you nod your head, lean forward … The more you’re encouraging people to speak, so that behaviour of being highly approachable is extremely valued when you’re doing the gathering.

Michael Grinder:

When we have run out of time or out of patience, we then have to evaluate and decide. The Latin word for decide means to cut, so now we’ve got get rid of all the options. Anyone whose still happy, cooperative, and is extremely approachable, they’re literally left behind when we enter the evaluate and decide. There’re words that we can use. Credible people tend to dominate, evaluate, and decide. Approachable people tend to dominate when we’re gathering. If you want to be using words from Take Off, from the movie, [inaudible 00:37:44] warrior, what you have to do is you have to make sure you switch your style based on what phase of the decision making process you’re in.

Michael Grinder:

Please be approachable when you’re doing gathering, and being credible during the evaluate and decide. Implementing depends on how you do the implementation. The [inaudible 00:38:08] letters, executive director, ED. The people that tend to get promoted aren’t necessarily the smarter ones, but they’re the ones that tend to be willing to make a decision. In working with a government agency, we did an activity where we had a male and female. A male and a female come up in front of 100 people that were trained in communication non-verbals, especially listening non-verbals. We asked two of them, a male and a female, “Would you please be the superiors?”, and the other two, a male and a female, “Would you please be subordinates?”

Michael Grinder:

What we’re going to do is we’re going to ask the subordinates to pitch an idea, a proposal, to the bosses, but we ask the boss, “Please listen a certain style,” because not only do we think of credible and approachable as speaking styles, listening styles too. That’s why I think your work is so brilliant, because you break into different parts. Especially I love when you say, “The deeper you breathe, the deeper you listen.” I love that phrase. Here’s what it looks like. If I listen like this, I sit straight up, I don’t move at all, and I just listen like this, this is an extreme, credible listening style. I haven’t even said a word, but I’m still being credible.

Michael Grinder:

If I’m over here and I now lean forward, I nod my head, I make encouraging sounds, and this is called the approachable. “Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ah.” What we found was when a male talks to another male, and the male listens in that credible style, the male subordinate says it’s normal. It doesn’t mean that he agrees or disagrees. It’s just normal. When we had the female talk to the other female, and the female was leaning forward and nodding, we asked the speaker, and she said, “No. I don’t think that she’s necessarily agreeing with me. She’s supporting the process.”

Michael Grinder:

So, if we go back to our house of communication, females can operate on both the continent level and the process level, where males are afraid to indicate any kind of support of the process for fear they’ll be misinterpreted, by the person whose doing the pitch, as an agreement. Everything was fine as long as we kept the same styles with the same genders, but as soon as we crossed it, and we had the female talking to the male, she’d lost her words and she couldn’t speak as well as the male, because it was other than the culture that is associated with her gender. Even when we ask her, she said, “I don’t necessarily know if he disagrees with me or not. He’s just being his style.”

Michael Grinder:

When the male talked to the female, and the female did the approachable style, the male said, “I might be mistaken, and I may be drawn into thinking that she’s supporting what I’m saying, but it could be she’s just supporting what the process is of the communication,” so we created an absolute product that says miscommunication, M-I-S-S, because it reveals the absolute gender inequalities in the workplace based on style. The only way I know how to get around this is you’ve got to tell people what your style is.

Michael Grinder:

For instance, male or female, if I say before we start, “I’m looking forward to your proposal, and I just want you to know a lot of times I will take notes as you are talking. That just indicates that I’m serious about listening to you very well,” so now you decrease the miscommunication of listening style by exposing what is your baseline style. Even if you don’t have the best baseline style, get that elephant out early.

Oscar Trimboli:

That’s a really elegant example of how we tell people to explore the possibility that in group settings, 10% of the agenda at the beginning should be clear about the process, and 10% of the agenda at the end should be clear about reviewing how we performed against the process. High performing teams that actually implement this very simple listening in a group dynamic to make sure the group makes the implicit explicit in how everybody’s communication style will show up in a group dynamic, because it’s quite often different from how their listening style shows up in one-on-one. They’re not always conscious of it, so the way you’ve explained the importance of this declaration is very skillful. I hope that each of you listening right now will take up Michael’s invitation as you explain how you listen to somebody else, which will only increase the effectiveness of the dialogue by making the implicit explicit. I’m curious what you’ve noticed about my listening during this conversation?

Michael Grinder:

You have a softness of face, and a softness of face normally will get most people with that kind of a face more permission to make sure that the speaker feels safe. The narrower the face, the more you’re going to be seen as credible. “Get to the point. I’m impatient.” The wider the face, the more you are seen as patient. From an appearance standpoint, you have an advantage over those people that don’t have that kind of a face. You also will tend to, when you are hearing something that you want to, for whatever reason either stabilise in your mind or figure out your reaction to what was said, your pupils will tend to go high in your eye socket, and they go up.

Michael Grinder:

It’s an indication that you’re storing visually whatever’s going on. When you really come to something that is marked off as extremely important, your eyebrows come into play. Your eyebrows will tend to lift, and it’s an indication of spot on. As we’d say in Australia, “Spot on.” In American, we’d say, “Yes. That’s quite right.” In Germany, “[inaudible 00:44:57].” So, different cultures will interpret it with different words, but your eyebrows are one of your finest, if I may, increase in your kinesthetics in terms of it. You make sure that you’re breathing at all times.

Michael Grinder:

When you tend to pause, because I can see you, I’m engaged enough with facial expressions so that I’m very relaxed waiting for you to come back, and I’ll just wait for you to make sure that you have the words in the order that you want, and especially what you want to target, because you’re very precise in terms of your style, and if you were precise with a narrow face, it wouldn’t work as well. Having the wider face and having, if I may, a pinch larger than normal mouth … People that have larger mouths than normal, their facial expressiveness, Jim Carrey would be a great example, they get to communicate much more. I have a small amount, so I have to keep my beard trimmed, because if you can’t see my upper lip, my mouth will say, “Are you in a bad mood today?”

Michael Grinder:

I go, “What? What?” It’s just facial. So, I came up with a way of thinking about how humans interact with each other, and it’s called Circles of Humanness. The first thing you notice is peoples’ appearance. Then, their behaviours, their styles, their value, and their core. What you’re doing is you’re teaching people to make sure, “Don’t you dare get stuck in stereotypes. You go deep inside the other human being.” If I offer a suggestion to you, and I say some kind of a behaviour, which is a second circle, compare that if I first say, “Because you’re already committed to,” and I say value. If I say, “Because you’re already committed to it,” and I recommend people just memorise that line, say the person’s value. Then, say a suggestion. Your permission level is so much higher.

Michael Grinder:

Do you mind if I do it with you? Thank you. For those people that are listening, he had a hand gesture that indicated it was okay for me to do. You opened the show by explaining what our format would be. Always do that. So, that was a behaviour, but if I go like this, “Because you’re committed to win-win,” you want to make sure that the person that you’re interviewing is so relaxed so that your client base out there can learn from it. Always open explaining the format of your show. The difference is, just if I go from inside out talking about a value, then my suggestion will fall on reset the viewers. In my mind, that’s what you’re teaching. It’s how to get to the value level of another human being, because they mark it off through their language patterns so that your communication is very deep.

Oscar Trimboli:

Thank you, Michael, for a marvellous masterclass about the science of non-verbal communication. I’m very conscious about what non-verbal signals I’m sending to the speaker while I’m listening. You see, those signals are amplified. I spend 93% of my day listening, so it really matters the kinds of signals I send out while I’m listening. What did Michael change my mind about today, and what will I notice going forward? I’m going to take more notice of the difference between credibility and approachability, and when I apply it, assessing, evaluating, deciding, and implementing. This will be useful for me, but even more powerful for those I work with.

Oscar Trimboli:

Michael’s book outlines 43 pages just focused on how to notice the speaker’s breathing and your breathing, and finally how it will improve the way both of you communicate. The book, The Elusive Obvious: The Science of Non-verbal Communications, is well written. It’s very accessible language, and it’s so practical. I strongly encourage if you get a chance to download it or to buy it, and notice the difference in the way you communicate verbally and non-verbally. I’m Oscar Trimboli, and I’m on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the world, and you’ve given me the greatest gift of all today. You’ve listened to me. Thanks for listening.

 

Subscribe to the podcast