Just Listen (2009) combines time-tested persuasion and listening techniques with new methods to help you get your message across to anybody. By learning how to be a better listener, how the brain works and how people think, you’ll be able to motivate people to do what you want because you’ll better understand their needs.
Have you ever stopped to consider the rhythm of your everyday conversations? If so, you might have found that you approach them as if they were all rational arguments, and this can often be counterproductive.
In fact, using arguments or pressure to influence or convince others often creates resistance. This is especially true when people come to you in times of stress: they don’t want advice to improve their situation – they just want to share what’s going on with them.
Imagine a man named Steve is standing on the edge of a seventh-story roof, threatening to jump and kill himself. As authorities surround the building and prepare themselves for the cleanup, a negotiator, Lieutenant Williams, approaches Steve. Williams tries to convince Steve that there are other options available to him other than hurting himself, and tells him that he’s there to help him get out of this terrible situation.
Unfortunately, Steve doesn’t feel understood and responds angrily, rejecting Lt. Williams’s help.
The problem? Williams didn’t listen. Listening gives others the chance to share their feelings and concerns, which creates a space for taking the next steps and making arguments. When we feel like our concerns are being heard, it engenders a certain level of trust between us and our conversation partners.
Now imagine that another negotiator, Lieutenant Brown, arrives at the scene to talk to Steve. After listening to Steve, Brown tells him: “I bet you feel this is your only way out.”
“Yes,” Steve replies.
By listening, Brown is able to show Steve how he empathizes with his situation.
He asks Steve about how he lost his job, why his wife left him, and so on. Steve then starts to calm down and begins to explain his situation, while becoming more open to solutions other than killing himself.
If you want people to be open to your arguments, you have to listen first. And, as you’ll discover in the next few blinks, we’re biologically programmed to do just that.