Just Listen, with Mark Goulston

Dr. Mark Goulston is the author of seven books including the international best seller Just Listen which became the top book on listening worldwide. Parvati Magazine sat down with him to learn how he weaves his enduring personal mission to heal the world into his work as a business coach and trainer.

Parvati Magazine: How does your enduring personal mission of “healing the world, one conversation at a time” translate into your coaching work for business?

Mark Goulston: I have to sneak it into my business relationships. Why? Because you have to give people what they want, build a trusting relationship based on that and then you might be able to give them what they need. The world needs to listen, but it doesn’t want to. The world and people in it need to heal, but superficially they want success and fun until they discover that those alone are not satisfying or fulfilling in the long run. When people open up to me and I give them a breakthrough solution to something they’ve never been able to solve, they become more open to learning the power of empathic listening, which is at the core of my work.

PMAG: Just Listen, published in 2009, is still a top selling book worldwide. Why does the way you teach listening provide such impact?

MG: The tone of the book is as impactful as the content. People tell me they feel talked with instead of talked over, at or even to. When people feel talked with and also learn to listen with receptive listening instead of removed (uninvolved), reactive (defensive) or even responsible (business as usual) listening, walls between people spontaneously disappear.

PMAG: What’s the link between helping people create change through listening and “Gotta Have It” which you are now teaching to businesses?

MG: As the world has become more technologically connected, listening became something that people need, but don’t want.

When I listened to people and got where they were coming from, instead of giving them what I thought was good for them, I discovered people were much more interested in becoming more persuasive and in getting other people to do what they want them to do.  

When you create a “gotta have it!” response in people, you get them to do what you wanted them to do without having to push or persuade.

The four-step formula for creating “gotta have it!” is what Steve Jobs unconsciously knew, because that is how Apple customers react on the first day a new product becomes available. It consists of: “Whoa!” (“I can’t believe what I just saw, heard, read or felt”), “Wow!” (“That is amazing, astonishing, unbelievable”), “Hmmm…” (“That is too good to ignore or not to use”), “Yes!” (“I see how and where I can use it. I’m in. I’m going to buy it”).

In these attention span challenged times, if you don’t create “Whoa!” “Wow!” “Hmmm…” “Yes!” in a customer’s, client’s, or investor’s mind, you’re instead creating, “Nah, no thanks. Pass.”

PMAG: What are you working on now in addition to business coaching?

MG: I am Chief Education Officer at POP Protocol which is a 501(c)(3) organization that trains law enforcement and civilians to de-escalate at a traffic stop (POP = pull over protocol), so that everyone makes it home alive.  

My most recent project is a one man show called, “Steve Jobs Returns,” where I play Steve Jobs coming back from the dead to tell the story of how he turned Apple around. There is no script. Instead I look at the world with his mind and eyes and talk about incidents, mistakes he made, lessons he learned, and then take questions from the audience and answer them as Jobs.

For more than three decades I developed a skill of feeling and seeing the world through other people’s eyes, and putting what they saw and felt into words they didn’t have but wanted to. It went from suicidal patients who didn’t talk much, through my training for FBI and police hostage negotiators, to being in the shoes of jurors on various cases. It has now extended to helping founders, entrepreneurs and CEO’s to see and look and step into their future, that they haven’t been able to do on their own.

Dr. Mark Goulston speaks internationally and is focusing currently on a one man show, “Steve Jobs Returns,” channeling Steve Jobs coming back from the dead to talk about his life, and insights to becoming “Insanely Great”. He is the CEO of the Goulston Group, an advisory, coaching and training company and author of seven books including “Just Listen” which became the top book on listening in the world. He contributes to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Business Insider and writes a syndicated column for Business Journal.