Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

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Overview

“Right now, there’s someone in your life you need to reach,” writes Mark Goulston, “but you can’t, and it’s driving you crazy. Maybe it’s somebody at work: a subordinate, a team member, a client, your boss. Or maybe it’s somebody at home: a partner, a parent, a defiant teen, an angry ex.”

If only you could get that person into a calm and receptive state of mind, you’d likely be able to work out your differences, whether they surface at the boardroom table or the dinner table. In Just Listen you’ll discover field-tested, powerful techniques for getting people to do what you want them to do. With Just Listen, the power to succeed is yours.

Praise for Just Listen

“I’ve already ordered copies for everyone in Mattel’s senior leadership team and for each of my grown kids.”— Bob Eckert, CEO and Chairman, Mattel

“This book will help you turn the impossible and unreachable people in your life into allies, devoted customers, loyal colleagues, and lifetime friends.” — Keith Ferrazzi, best-selling author of Who’s Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone

“Easy to read, easy to follow, and the results are astounding.” — Marshall Goldsmith, best-selling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Succession: Are You Ready?

“A groundbreaking work that all leaders, present and future, should read, and more important, practice.” — Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Management, USC, and author of On Becoming a Leader

“Goulston’s book delivers on his promise. Read it and you will discover the secret to getting through to absolutely anyone, and I mean anyone!” — Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

“Goulston’s insights into human behavior are real gems.” — Steven B. Sample, President, University of Southern California; author of the best-selling book The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It's a measure of how contentious work relationships can get that the author, a psychiatrist, draws on hostage-negotiation techniques to instruct readers on how to deal with 'defiant executives, angry employees or self-destructing management teams'.... Mission accomplished." --Time Magazine

"useful and applicable techniques and strategies for everything from getting teams to work together, to handling narcissistic clients (or is that a redundancy?), and getting your message across to even the most impenetrable people" --Accounting Today

"Just Listen is a banquet of approaches and ideas that's easy to devour the first time around, and a flavorful feast whenever you use portions as a reference book. It's certainly one of the best how-to books of the year." --Inland Empire Business Journal

"A primer on dealing with hard-to-reach people in virtually every scenario -- definat executives, angry employees, families in turmoil, warring couples -- through use of well-honed psychological techniques. Illustrative snippets from counseling session reveal martial-arts like techniques: potent on their own, but even more powerful when you combine them. Chapter summaries feature action steps preparing readers to encounter similar scenarios, yielding a guide that is as entertaining as it is useful." --CareerBuilder.com

"Just Listen is not only helpful for any kind of business, it teaches a skill that will aid you outside of the office too." --Niche Magazine

"Just Listen is an excellent guide for learning how to break down barriers." --Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Publishers Weekly
Goulston (Get Out of Your Own Way at Work) returns with a primer on dealing with hard-to-reach people in virtually every scenario—defiant executives, angry employees, families in turmoil, warring couples—through use of well-honed psychological techniques. Negotiating intractable situations is like driving up a steep hill, he posits, but most of us make the mistake of creating more resistance by shifting up; “downshift, and you get control,” he writes. His “Persuasion Cycle” filters illustrative snippets from counseling sessions during which he digs into an impressive bag of tricks—“Magic Paradox,” “Impossibility Question,” “Empathy Jolt”—techniques “like martial arts moves: potent on their own, but even more powerful when you combine them.” His successful persuasion case studies include negotiating a police standoff and assisting a married couple's conflict resolution. Chapter summaries feature action steps preparing readers to encounter similar scenarios, yielding a guide that is as entertaining as it is useful. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist, business consultant, and FBI hostage-negotiation trainer, Goulston provides brilliant yet doable techniques for getting through to others. His approach boils down to a modernized version of eminent therapist Carl Rogers's client-centered therapy owing to its point that people need to be "felt"; clarifying questions and statements faciliate achieving just that. His advice on recognizing and steering clear of toxic people is on target. This book transcends the self-help category by promoting real communication.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814414033
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 89,805
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK GOULSTON (Los Angeles, CA) is a psychiatrist, business consultant, executive coach, and FBI and police hostage negotiation trainer. A bestselling author whose books include Get Out of Your Own Way and Get Out of Your Own Way at Work, he writes a column on leadership for Fast Company and “Solve Anything with Dr. Mark” for Tribune Media Services, and is frequently called upon to share his expertise by the media including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Reuters, NPR, CNN, Fox News, and the Oprah and TODAY shows.

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Read an Excerpt

Who’s Holding You Hostage?

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.

—PAUL HAWKEN, AUTHOR,

NATURAL CAPITALISM

Right now, there’s someone in your life you need to reach. But you can’t, and it’s driving you crazy. Maybe it’s somebody at work: a subordinate, a team member, a client, your boss. Or maybe it’s somebody at home: a partner, a parent, a defiant teen, an angry “ex.”

You’ve tried everything—logic, persuasion, forcefulness, pleading, anger—but you’ve hit a wall every time. You’re mad, scared, or frustrated. And you’re thinking, “What now?”

Here’s what I want you to do: Think of this as a hostage situation. Why? Because you can’t get free. You’re trapped by another person’s resistance, fear, hostility, apathy, stubbornness, self-centeredness, or neediness—and by your own inability to take effective action.

And that’s where I come in.

I’m just an average guy—husband, father, doctor—but a long time ago, I discovered that I had a special talent. You could drop me into just about any situation, and I could reach people. I could persuade defiant executives, angry employees, or self-destructing management teams to work cooperatively toward solutions. I could get through to families in turmoil and to married couples who hated each other’s guts. I could even change the minds of hostage takers and desperate people contemplating suicide.

I wasn’t sure what I was doing differently from everybody else, but I could tell it worked. I knew I wasn’t smarter than everybody else, and I knew my success wasn’t just luck because what I did worked consistently, and it worked with all kinds of people in every type of situation. But why did it work?

In analyzing my methods, I found the answer. It turned out I’d happened on a simple, quick set of techniques—some I’d discovered on my own, and others I’d learned from mentors and colleagues—that create traction. That is, they pull people toward me, even if those people are trying to pull away.

To understand this, picture yourself driving up a steep hill. Your tires slip and slide and can’t grab hold. But downshift, and you get control. It’s like pulling the road to meet you.

Most people upshift when they want to get through to other people. They persuade. They encourage. They argue. They push. And in the process, they create resistance. When you use the techniques I offer, you’ll do exactly the opposite—you’ll listen, ask, mirror, and reflect back to people what you’ve heard. When you do, they will feel seen, understood, and felt—and that unexpected downshift will draw them to you.

The powerful techniques you’ll learn in this book can move people rapidly and easily, often within minutes, from “no” to “yes.” I employ them every day to fix broken families and help warring couples fall in love again. I use them to save companies on the brink of meltdown, get feuding managers to work together effectively, and empower salespeople to make “impossible” sales. And I use them to help FBI agents and hostage negotiators succeed in the toughest situations possible, when life and death are on the line.

In fact, as you’ll find out, you have a lot in common with hostage negotiators when it comes to reaching the people who don’t want to listen to you. That’s why this book starts with Frank’s story.

FRANK'S STORY

Frank is sitting in his car in a large mall parking lot, and nobody is coming near him because he’s holding a shotgun to his throat. The SWAT team and the hostage negotiation team are called in. The SWAT team takes positions behind other cars and vehicles, trying to not agitate the man.

As they wait, they fill in the background details. They’re looking at a man in his early thirties who lost his customer service job at a large electronics store six months earlier for yelling at customers and coworkers. He’d interviewed for several jobs, but didn’t get any of them. He was abusive verbally to his wife and two young children.

A month earlier, his wife and kids moved in with her parents in another city. She told him that she needed a break, and he needed to get his act together. The landlord of their apartment kicked him out at the same time because they hadn’t paid the rent. He moved into a shabby room in a poor section of the city. He stopped bathing and shaving and ate next to nothing. The last straw was the restraining order he’d received the day before he ended up at the mall parking lot.

Now the lead negotiator is talking calmly to the man. “Frank, this is Lieutenant Evans, I’m going to be talking with you, because there is another way out of this besides hurting yourself. I know you don’t think you have any choice, but you really do.”

Frank exclaims: “You don’t know s***. You’re just like everyone else. Leave me the f*** alone!”

Lieutenant Evans replies: “I don’t think I can do that. You’re here in the middle of a mall parking lot with a gun to your throat, and I need to help you find another way out of this situation.”

“Go f*** yourself! I don’t need anyone’s help!” Frank replies.

And so the conversation proceeds for an hour, with stretches of silence lasting several minutes or more. As the information about Frank comes in, it becomes clear that he’s not an evil person, just a very disturbed and angry one. The SWAT team is poised to “take him out” if he threatens anyone else with his gun, but everyone except Frank would like to end this peacefully. However, the odds of that don’t look so good.

After an hour and a half, another negotiator, Detective Kramer, arrives. Kramer is a graduate of one of the hostage negotiation training sessions I’ve delivered to police and FBI hostage negotiators.

Detective Kramer’s been briefed about Frank’s background and the status of this negotiation and offers Lieutenant Evans a different suggestion: “Here’s what I want you to say to the guy: ‘I’ll bet you feel that nobody knows what it’s like to have tried everything else and be stuck with this as your only way out, isn’t that true?’”

Evans replies, “Say what?”

Kramer repeats the suggestion: “Yeah, go on, say this to the guy: ‘I’ll bet you feel that nobody knows what it’s like to have tried everything else and be stuck with this as your only way out, isn’t that true?’”

Evans complies and when he says that to Frank, Frank too replies with: “Say what?”

Evans repeats it to Frank, who this time responds: “Yeah, you’re right, nobody knows and nobody gives a f***!”

Kramer tells Evans, “Good, you got a ‘Yes’; now you’re in. Let’s build on that.” He adds a second question for the lead negotiator to ask: “Yeah, and I’ll bet you feel that nobody knows what it’s like to start every day believing that there’s more chance that something will go wrong than go right, isn’t that true, too?”

To that, Frank replies: “Yeah, every f****** day! The same thing happens.”

Kramer tells Evans to repeat what he’s heard and get an additional confirmation: “And because nobody knows how bad it is and nobody cares and because nothing goes right and everything goes wrong, that’s why you’re in your car with a gun wanting to end it all. True?”

“True,” Frank replied, his voice showing the earliest signs of calming down.

“Tell me more. What exactly has happened to you? When was your life last okay, and what’s happened since then to turn it to crap?” Evans invites.

Frank starts to recount the events since he was fired from his job.

When he pauses, Evans responds with: “Really . . . tell me more.”

Frank continues describing the problems he’s had. At some point, with guidance from Kramer, Evans says: “And all of that’s caused you to feel angry? Or frustrated? Or discouraged? Or hopeless? Or what exactly?” Evans waits for Frank to pick the word that best fits how he feels. Frank finally owns up to: “Fed up.” Evans follows up with: “So you felt fed up and when you got that restraining order, that was the breaking point?” “Yeah,” Frank confirms. His voice, once hostile, is quieter now. In a few sentences, Frank’s gone from refusing to communicate to listening and beginning to have a conversation. What just happened? The most critical step in persuasion—the step I refer to as “buy-in”—has begun. That’s the step where a person goes from resisting to listening and then to considering what’s being said.

What caused Frank to start listening and begin to “buy in” to what Lieutenant Evans was saying? That shift was no accident. The secret lay in saying the words that Frank was thinking but not saying. When the lieutenant’s words matched what Frank was thinking, Frank leaned into the conversation and began to say, “Yes.”

***

Excerpted from JUST LISTEN by Mark Goulston. Copyright © 2010 by Mark Goulston. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Foreword by Keith Ferrazzi xv

Acknowledgments xvii

SECTION I The Secret to Reaching Anyone

1 Who’s Holding YOU Hostage?

2 A Little Science: How the Brain Goes from “No” to “Yes”

SECTION II The Nine Core Rules for Getting Through to Anyone 25

3 Move Yourself from “Oh F#@& to OK”

4 Rewire Yourself to Listen

5 Make the Other Person Feel “Felt”

6 Be More Interested Than Interesting

7 Make People Feel Valuable

8 Help People to Exhale Emotionally and Mentally

9 Check Your Dissonance at the Door

10 When All Seems Lost—Bare Your Neck

11 Steer Clear of Toxic People

SECTION III 12 Quick and Easy Ways to Achieve Buy-In and Get Through

12 The Impossibility Question

13 The Magic Paradox

14 The Empathy Jolt

15 The Reverse Play, Empathy Jolt #2

16 “Do You Really Believe That?”

17 The Power of “Hmmm . . .”

18 The Stipulation Gambit

19 From Transaction to Transformation

20 Side by Side

21 Fill in the Blanks

22 Take It All the Way to “No”

23 The Power Thank You and Power Apology

SECTION IV Putting It All Together: Fast Fixes for Seven Challenging Situations

24 The Team from Hell

25 Climbing the Ladder

26 The Narcissist at the Table

27 Stranger in Town

28 The Human Explosion

29 Getting Through to Yourself

30 Six Degrees of Separation

Afterword

Index

About the Author

Keynotes/Workshops

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great for work and home use

    Mark Goulston has done a great job of explaining how the communication cycle works. He uses relevant examples to illustrate his ideas to help you not only listen but how to be heard. His information can be used in the workplace if you are employee having trouble getting through to people or as a supervisor who has to lead up or down ladder. He also uses examples that offer solutions to communication problems at home with your kids or spouse. The end of chapter includes a practical application tool for you to use to practice or use the concept you've just read about. If you ever thought "why don't people listen me" this book is for you!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    'Just Listen" is a must-read!

    Put simply, "Just Listen" is fabulous! It is a "must-read" for anyone who wants to enhance their relationships with others and with themselves. It contains practical and pragmatic approaches to many of the uncomfortable and difficult situations most of us encounter in both our professional and personal lives. Dr. Goulston provides the reader with real, usable language and strategies that are clearly designed to ensure successful outcomes. "Just Listen" is an invaluable tool for everyone! Dr. Goulston has truly hit a home-run with this gem of a book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Best book I've read in a long time...

    Mark Goulston has hit another home run.

    Just Listen provides excellent advice for how to improve your relationships with even the most difficult people. The book provides just enough detail on how the brain works to make understanding the concepts easier without needing a medical degree to understand it.

    The nine rules for getting through to anyone are all the practices the popular and effective people use to get their point across. Mark details these practices in a way everyone can understand and put to use.

    The 12 ways to achieve buy-in are simple, actionable methods that will dramatically improve your ability to communicate and connect.

    If you only read one book this year, make it Just Listen - it is a life changer!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Listen & Learn

    Mark has done a fine job in helping others to become better listeners. His techniques really work. I use the book in my college sales classes. Highly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific advice, well told

    You'll see yourself just in the first page, tolerating someone difficult you gives you gray hair. This is more than a game of words, it is a real way to reach beyond another person's attitude by reaching into yourself first. A very healthy and productive approach that will help a lot of people personally and professionally.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    great!

    great!

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