Becoming an Exceptional Listener | Barbara May | Skillshare

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Becoming an Exceptional Listener

teacher avatar Barbara May, Online Course Creator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Step 1: Create Safe Environment

    • 3. Step 2: Be Attentive

    • 4. Step 3: Ask Questions

    • 5. Step 4: Empathize

    • 6. Step 5: Check for Understanding

    • 7. Step 6: Peel the Onion

    • 8. Bonus: Listening Between the Lines

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About This Class

Learn how to captivate customers, inspire audiences, and grow your business through the power of listening.

Here's what you'll learn:

  • Create a Safe Environment
  • Be Attentive
  • Ask Questions
  • Empathize
  • Check for Understanding
  • Peel the Onion

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Barbara May

Online Course Creator


i have spent a life-time knowing how to get up after a fall. But I figure doing that and getting a laugh at the same time is a lot more fun. I am a former national level gymnast, award winning coach, aspiring drummer and mother of two who joked my way into the Guinness World Records by performing in the longest stand-up comedy show in history.

With more than two decades of work experience behind me in fields as diverse as sport and recreation, education, not-for-profit management, entertainment and government, I bring a uniquely powerful mix of personal stories, humorous examples, and real-world insight to my programs and clients. By talking openly about my struggles and triumphs, I help people turn their stumbling blocks into building... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome to becoming an exceptional listener. I'm Barbara May and I help people get past their stumbling blocks. In this course, I'm going to show you how to captivate customers, influence audiences, and grow your business through the power of listening. I am the founder and CEO of stumbling blocks team-building seminars. And I have more than 20 years experience working as a school counselor, a special education teacher, a program director, a sport consultant, career employment consultant, and an executive director. And I'm going to draw upon this experience to give you very practical examples of how you can apply these skills and techniques that I'm teaching you into your own life. So let's jump into what we're going to be covering in the course. Becoming an exceptional listener has six components to the course. So it's basically a six-step formula that you can use to be an effective listener. The first step is to create a safe environment so that the person you're talking to feel safe enough to open up and share their thoughts and ideas. The second step is to be attentive. Third step is to ask lots of questions and very specific questions that are going to help you to better understand what the other person is saying. The fourth step is to empathize. Fifth step is check for understanding. And the final step in this process is to peel the onion. Now if you don't know what some of these things mean right now, that's okay. What I'm going to do throughout the course is lead you through some very simple ways, tips, strategies, techniques that you can use to become an exceptional listener. Okay, so if you're ready, we're gonna jump right in. And I will see you in the first step, which is creating a safe environment. 2. Step 1: Create Safe Environment: I spent 15 years teaching coaches how to coach with the National coaching certification program. So I worked with coaches from all different sports, baseball, soccer swimming, and synchronized swimming, even bowling. And one of the things that we spent a lot of time talking about was creating a safe environment. Now when we would start the discussion, we would take it from the approach of how do you be safe in sport? So the physical environment and the goal being to prevent injuries. As we got more and more into the course and we started talking about communication problems and breakdowns and, and parents that were causing problems and athletes that might not be motivated. We turned our focus to creating a safe environment where people could feel respected and heard. And for a lot of coaches who were used to telling, telling people what to do, we had to, we had to do a bit of a mind shift where we helped them to understand that. In fact, if they spent more time listening, they would actually be more effective and be able to connect in a much better way. So for the purpose of becoming an exceptional listener, I would like to talk about creating a safe environment from this viewpoint. So it's an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and concerns. Now let's think about that for a moment. Can you think about a time where perhaps you an issue that you wanted to resolve or you're upset about something and you approach somebody, perhaps it was in customer service, manager or supervisor, could have been in your own workplace or could have been in your home life. And what did you want? Did did you want them to fix the problem for you? Or were you more interested in them listening and, and, and, and making you feel validated. Or I don't wanna say making you feel validator, but, but listening to your ideas so that you did feel validated. My guess is you would you'd be really happy if they simply listened and stop trying to fix the problem. So when you think about the environment that you're creating for the people that you're dealing with. And again, it could be at home, it could be at work, it could be anywhere. Are you creating a safe environment? And what does that look like to you? So it could be things as simple as is there a quiet place to talk where you won't be interrupted? Are you being non-judgmental? And what I mean by that is you don't have to agree with what the person says, but try not to judge what they're saying. It could be things like they're really upset, dealing with their emotions first and then trying to resolve the issue. So there are a number of things that you can do to create an environment. And I'm going to encourage you buy to start just by thinking about the physical environment that you're in. How much noise is in the environment? Is it, are you being interrupted? Or is it a nice quiet space where you can fully engage in a conversation? And then I want you to think about the emotional safety of the person. And what can you do to make them feel safe? 3. Step 2: Be Attentive: What are the most difficult jobs that I've ever had was working as a current employment consultant for the Government of Alberta. Now it sounded like it would be an awesome job, career and employment helping people find jobs, which is something that I am passionate about. But as I got into the job, I realized that what we were primarily doing was helping people who were incredibly vulnerable and needed financial support. So giving out income support. And unfortunately, when when people were at that point, it was usually a last ditch attempt to keep them off the streets or in some cases, they were on the street and we were trying to help them get back into a place where they could live. So as you can imagine, it was a very difficult situation to help people through. Now I had a coworker and and she was amazing to watch and I learned so much from her. Her name was Cheryl. But the thing that really struck me about Cheryl was that she genuinely cared about the clients that we were working with. And when she met with a client, what she would do is she would be fully and completely present with them to help them work together to solve their problems. Now, when it came to dealing with me, she was an amazing coworker because she would take the time to help me in learning new skills and dealing with the situations that we were dealing with. So I'm incredibly grateful to Cheryl and I'd like to share with you some of the things that she did. So So she would always give the person that she was talking to her full attention and she would pay attention to what they were saying and doing. So in using these skills as I began to develop them and use them in my own life, I realized that a lot of times people wouldn't actually say what was on their mind. And in fact, their body and their emotions would oftentimes speak louder then, then their words could. Now I don't think it was an effort for them to be deceitful. I think that the emotion were so strong that they actually just couldn't get the words out. So one of the things that I learned how to do was to make space for people. And this is one of the skills that I think is super important is to be attentive to the other person. So think for a minute about a customer or a coworker, or perhaps one of your employees that is struggling with an issue and you need to have a conversation with them. The first thing that I want you to do is, is to really focus on creating that safe environment and then being attentive to what they are saying and doing. Pay attention to them, be in the moment with them. Listen to what they are saying, give them space to say it. Be comfortable in the pauses, be comfortable in the quiet. What I think happens sometimes when we're, we're trying to listen to someone is we have our own agenda or we're busy trying to figure out in our own mind, what are we going to say next? So we're, we're already building a response before we fully heard the other person. And the biggest key that I learned from working with Cheryl is that if you can give the other person your full attention, give them time to express what is going on for them to listen without judgment. And then eventually you'll be able to get to a point where you can help them solve the problems. So if you work in customer service or you're a manager or your frontline employee. One of the most valuable things that you can do is be attentive, the person that you're talking to. Now, I promised in the intro that we were talking about influencing audiences as well. And as a speaker, I have a chance to listen and be attentive to the needs of my audience. It just might not look the way that you're used to it. So to give you an example before I, I do a presentation, I usually meet with you organizers to find out what their needs are. So I spent a lot of time listening to what's going on with their group, what are their dynamics, what do they want them to learn? And then I put a program together. Now when I step out on stage, I'm very aware that my audience might not be able to talk directly with words to me because I'm on the stage. But what I can do is listened very intently to their body language, to their facial expressions, to how they're sitting, to whether or not they look like they're paying attention. The other thing that I can do is I can ask them for some direct feedback. So I can pose a question to the audience and ask different members of the audience to speak out and answer my questions. And involving the audience in this way has a number of benefits, but one, it engages the audience. But two, it gives me more information so that I can do a better job of teaching or are speaking to them. So with this in mind, one of the things I decided to do was videotape one of my classes. And it was not the results were not what I expected. So here's what I mean is I had the camera focused on me and there were about 15 people in the audience when I was talking. And as I was involving the audience and asking them questions, what I observed on the video from me was a lot of attending behaviors. So things like Oh, that's interesting. Could you tell me more about that? And when I first watched the video, I I started laughing. I was like, Is that really what I look like when I'm at the front of the room. And what I realized was yes, as a speaker, a trainer, facilitator. I probably spent a good portion of my time listening and involving the audience in my presentations. And I'm actually using the exact same techniques that I used working one-on-one as a current employment consultant with clients one-on-one. I just wasn't aware that I was doing it. So let's take that now to your situation. And I'd like you to think about how can you be more attentive to the person or the people that you're listening to. And how can you be in the moment, how can you show that you're listening? And one of the things that you may want to start becoming aware of are those attentive manners and words and gestures that you use. Hmm. I see. Tell me more about that, right? Those kind of techniques. Now, we don't want you to consciously use them as techniques in a way that people are gonna go, wow, she's using a technique. But what we want you to do is practice them so that you can begin incorporating them. So they just become a tool that is part of your toolbox. It becomes a very natural thing. And the more you can practice connecting one-on-one and really listening and being attentive to that person. Then you can begin taking those skills to a larger group. 4. Step 3: Ask Questions: Have you ever had the experience of talking to someone and it was almost like you didn't even need to be there. So what I mean by that is they had their own ideas and their own agenda. And they just were talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking. And it could have been you or anyone else sitting there. It didn't really matter. Well, you've had that experience, you I'm guessing you didn't enjoy it. And the mistake that the person made is they thought that the most important thing in that interaction or in that relationship, or that, that experience, was them expressing what they thought and what they didn't do or what they didn't realize they should do, engage you in the conversation. So one of the first things that I want to talk about when we talk about asking questions as a technique for becoming an exceptional listener is why and when would you ask questions? And I'm going to say, anytime you're talking to people. So let me give you an example. Let's say you go to a networking event and you meet somebody. And after all the formalities of saying hi, my name is Barbara and, and I am founder and CEO of suddenly books team-building seminars. Might tendency might be to tell them more and more and more about myself. But the other person is probably sitting there thinking, Jeez, I wish she would ask about me. Does she care about me? Is she interested in me? And one of the best ways that you can show interest in another person is to ask them a question. So hey, tell me about your business or what brings you here today. So asking questions can be a great way to get a conversation rolling. And in a good conversation, there's gonna be a lot of back and forth. So I'll ask a question or throw the ball to them. They'll ask me a question, throw the ball back, and it becomes a nice interactive conversation that's pleasant. I learned about the person, they learned about me. So one of the things you can use for questions and becoming an exceptional listener is to, you know, show interest in the other person, which we talked about in step 21 of the best ways to do that, to be attentive is to ask them questions about themselves. And they don't have to be like super deep questions that can be like, hey, what brings you here today? Are what did you like most about the speaker you just heard? Or what do you like most about our product? Hey, so let me bring that now to customer service before you're able to actually help your customer or do a great job helping your customer, you need to listen to what it is that they need. So in this case, becoming an exceptional listener is going to help you serve the customer better and ultimately make more money or grow your business. So what I like to do when I'm dealing with customers is find out as much as I can about them, what they're looking for, what they need help with, what problem I can solve. And the best way for me to do that is through questions. So let me give you a concrete example. When a client calls me and they'd like to book me to teach a team-building seminar for them. What I'll do is I'll have a conversation. I'll say, well, tell me a little bit about your organization. What are your biggest stumbling blocks? What are your challenges? What are your opposite goals? And then based on what they're telling me, I'm then able to offer them a solution. Hey, now if I didn't take the time and they call and they say I'd like to book somebody to do a team-building seminars like okay, well, you know, when you want me wearing when, well, they might book me, but the risk of that is now I get there and I'm not prepared to be able to do a great job teaching for them because I don't know what their issues are. Another, where that another place that I think asking questions becomes a really super important is let's say people are upset about something. So I saw this a lot when when I was well, it probably in just about every job I've had when people aren't happy about the way things are going. And they come to you as a manager or supervisor, or even a front-line employee and they say, this is a problem, I want you to fix it. And a lot of times what happens is they're not really clear on why they're upset. So by asking questions, instead of becoming defensive, because I think one of the tendencies when someone comes at us with a complaint or when they're upset is we can get defensive and think, well, we have to tell them why they're wrong, which is one of the worst things that we can do. So if we ask questions, if we're curious, if we seek to understand, we're going to be a lot more effective in helping them deal with their problem. So to become an exceptional list listener, you want to ask questions that will help you understand and appreciate the other person's point of view. So the questions might be really simple, like tell me more about that. Is there something I could do to help? What do you think went wrong? What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it? Okay, now, there are literally a million questions that we could ask and there are many different types of questions that we can ask. But for today, I just want to have you move away from asking what we call close ended questions. So close ended questions would be like yes or no answers. So did you like the spaghetti? Yes or no? Okay. That's a close ended question. If I ask an open-ended question, it would be more like, what did you like most about the spaghetti, for example. And then the person can describe what it was they liked or what it was they didn't like. Which gives me more information. And the more information I have, the more I can understand the other person's point of view, the better I can connect with them. If it's a situation where I need to help them resolve something, then I will have more information to just resolve to provide a solution. Now another way, and I'm going to wrap up with this one is, is, let's say you're in a situation which which I found myself in often where I would be in a business meeting and somebody would get up to present an idea. And then they would be giving out information. And a lot of times what they were trying to explain didn't make a lot of sense or I didn't understand something. So in those cases I would be asking questions simply to gather information so that I could understand or comprehend what they're saying. And I think part of becoming an exceptional listener is really understanding what the person is saying. So one of the mistakes I see people making all the time is they're listening and they're paying attention and they're nodding and they're using all those attentive clues. And they, and they might actually ask questions, but they're not understanding what the answers are. And they go away confused. And I don't want that to happen to you. So if I am saying things in this video that don't make sense, you've please reach out in the comments and ask me a question, be happy to clarify. And in fact, that is such an important part of the communication processes that two way back in forth. And while you might not be here in person when I'm recording this, if I can get feedback from you where you can say this didn't make sense or can you expand on this a little bit more barber, Tell me a little bit more about this, then that will help me to be a better teacher. So the next step, what I'd like you to do is I'd like you to think about some questions you might be able to begin asking. I'd like to think about the situations you're in when you're listening. And what can you do specifically, what kinds of questions can you ask to understand more fully what the person is saying? And this will help you become an exceptional listener. So if you don't mind, take a few minutes right now. Jot down a few ideas. Perhaps I said something that triggered an idea, jot it down. And we're going to add this skill to our toolbox of becoming an effective listener, which is asking questions. 5. Step 4: Empathize: At this point in the course, you know how to create a safe environment. You know how to be attentive or pay attention to the person you're listening to. You know how to ask questions. And now we're going to move our attention to step four, which is to empathize with the person that you're talking to. Now, empathize is it means to imagine or try to understand the other person's feelings and what it's like to be in their situation. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with them. Doesn't mean you have to like them. You don't have to like their behavior. You don't have to like their situation. You don't have to like what they're saying. What it means is that you're going to try to understand their feelings and what it's like to be in their situation. Now, when I was a Career and Employment Consultant for the government, I had a lot of opportunity to meet one-on-one with people who were in very vulnerable situations. So as I mentioned, they'd lost their jobs. Some of them were suffering from life threatening illnesses. Some of them were dealing with addictions. Some people were coming right out of jail. There was a whole variety of situations that I had to deal with, and it wasn't my job to judge. It was my job to listen and to help. That was my job. Now, one of the things that I, that I realized in, in empathizing with people is that it can be very challenging, especially if the emotions that the other person is portraying are emotions that we're not comfortable with. Okay, so let me give you an example. Let's say you're talking to somebody and they're really angry and they're coming out with u with an aggressive force, ok, so you can feel that emotion coming at you. And in fact, we have something in our brains called mirror neurons. And these neurons in our brain do, is they light up or they, they get activated when we sense emotion in someone else. So if you're not comfortable with anger, for example, as an emotion that can make you feel really uncomfortable. And it may also cause you to start feeling angry yourself. And this is a scientific thing with these mirror neurons. So what we wanna do when we're empathizing, it doesn't mean that we have to take on their emotion. But what we'll do is we'll, we'll notice it. Okay. I'm noticing that that person is angry. And then I'm going to focus back in on myself and my breathing to try to maintain my center so that I don't get triggered. Okay. Now let me give you another example. One of the clients that I was working with, she had she had gone through a really horrific event. What happened is she went home to the trailer where she was staying, open the door and a spark lit, and the the trailer actually blew up and there was a huge fire. And when she came into see me, of course, she had just gone through this trauma. Her friends had been rushed to the hospital and she had a physically experienced some some symptoms to she had to go to the hospital as well and now she had no place to live. So when she came into see me and I was talking to her and she was telling me about what happened. I could feel her pain, I could feel her sadness, I could feel her trauma. And what I had to do to be in being a listener was stay really present and notice what she was going through without taking it on. Okay. So we want you to empathize, but like I said, you don't have to agree with it, you don't have to like it. But what you're doing is you're being present, allowing that person to express that emotion, and then trying to understand what their situation is. Now if I come back to a more concrete example that a lot of you may be able to relate to in dealing with customers. Turn the table. So let's say you go to a coffee shop and you order a coffee, and you want to double, double, and you get the coffee and it's cold. So sure there's sugar in it, there's cream in it, but it's cold. Your first reaction might be to be upset. And when you go to the counter and you say, I'd like a new coffee. This coffee is cold and you're a little bit upset your riled up. What you want is the person to understand and relate and fix the problem. And if you don't get empathy from them, if they go Jays, you know, why are you so upset? Or they just look disinterested or they don't seem to care, that is actually going to make you more upset. So one of the things a person can do when you complain to them is they can say, Hey, I'm really sorry, you feel this way. Let me see what I can do to help you resolve that. And in that way, they're empathizing. Okay. So when we turn it around the other way and were the person that is listening, what we wanna do is we want to give that person space to have their feelings. Try to understand what they're going through and sit with it and be okay with sitting with it. Now, I'm not suggesting that if somebody is being abusive, that you have to put up with it. I'm not suggesting that at all. Sometimes what happens when people are upset is if they know that you care and that you can listen, they'll actually calm themselves down. So I've seen this over and over when I've worked with people, somebody will come to me with a problem. They're upset, they might be ranting and raving. And then as they talk about the problem, the motion escalates, it starts to get stronger. And if I'm able to stay present with it, they'll get over they'll get over sort of a hump here. Where they go, hi, I'm being heard. They get it out and they're emotion dissipates, it dissolves. And then were able to get to the part where we can find a solution to their problem. But if I jump in too early with a solution, or I'm not listening, or I'm not empathizing, the other person will just continue to get upset. And at that point we start escalating the conflict, which is not what we wanna do. So as you become more comfortable with listening and with emotions, and with allowing people the space to express their ideas and their thoughts. And you show that you really care. People will feel heard. And what happens when they feel heard. They feel good. They come down and they're usually able to resolve their own problem. And if they need your help, now there'll be willing to let you help. So a big part of this process is empathizing or trying to understand the other person's feelings, what it's like to be in their situation. And again, you don't have to like their situation or agree with it. All you have to do is listen. So what I'd like you to do right now is I'd like you to take a moment and jot down some ideas about what you could do to be more empathetic. And a big part of that is going to start with managing your own emotions so that you can listen effectively without being triggered. And if you do get triggered, it's really important that you learn strategies and techniques that you can use to deal with that when you are triggered. Because what happens when we get triggered as we then begin judging, we stopped listening. We can't deal with their own emotions. So there are a number of reasons that we want you to become more skilled and becoming an exceptional listener. One of the biggest things that you can do is empathize with the person you're talking to. 6. Step 5: Check for Understanding: One of the most important skills that you can use to help you become an exceptional listener is to check for understanding. Now, I learned this the hard way. I was a competitive gymnastics coach and I was working with a group of precompetitive athletes. So these were young girls at ranged in age from 49 who showed a lot of talent and love and passion for the sport of gymnastics, will one day, I'll never forget it. We were doing conditioning exercises. So you're doing these tuck jumps for the kids had to jump in the air, polar knees up and land, and they had to repeat it 20 times. Well, the girls, we finished doing the exercises and the group all turned to me and they said, Barbara crystals cheating. And I was like, What do you mean crystals cheating? I looked at crystal and she was four years old and I thought she can't be cheating, she's hoping for and she loves gymnastics. So what's going on here? And the girls were really upset. They didn't think it was fair that she didn't do all 20. And I really wanted to listen to their concerns. But I thought there's gotta be something else going on here. So I said to the group, I said, okay, let's do it again. We're gonna, we're gonna do it altogether. And crustal, I'd like you to count out loud. So we started jumping 123. And as I was listening to Crystal, she was going 1235, 19-21. And then she stopped jumping. And I realized that the problem was she didn't know how to count to 20. So what I did is I changed my instructions and I said to the girls were going to do 20 tuck jumps. You guys can count out loud, We're gonna do 20. And then I asked Crystal to keep jumping until the other girls finished doing their tuck jumps. Now, I was able to resolve the issue and get to the heart of the matter because I listened to the concern. And then I check for understanding. And in this case, crystal just didn't understand. So what we wanna do when we are listening to someone is we want to check in with them. And we want to make sure that we can identify the important information that they're sharing or the facts and repeat them back to the person we're talking to. So to give you an example, if I'm working with a customer and they tell me that they're looking for a team-building seminar. They want to focus on communication skills. And one of the biggest problems that they have in their workplace is resolving conflict. Then what I'm gonna do is I'm going to listen to them and it might actually take them a minute or two or three or four to express all of those thoughts to me than what all do when there's a pause or an opening in the conversation is, I'll say it sounds like you're looking for some, for a team-building session that we'll focus on communication and help people resolve conflict. Now, the beautiful thing about that technique is if I get it right, they're gonna go, yeah, that's it. That's exactly what they want. And they're going to feel heard. If I get it wrong. So let's say in that example I said, So it sounds like you're looking for a team-building seminar that'll be really motivational and fun. Well, that's not what they asked for. So they would probably say no, no, no, that's not it. That's not what I want. And the beautiful thing about that is then they will try explaining to me again what they want. So the phrase that I teach in all my workshops for people to practice and try is it sounds like and why it's so easy to use. All you need to do is listen to what the person's saying. And after they've expressed what they're, what they're talking about, then you say, Well, it sounds like, and you repeat back what you think you've heard K. Now some people call this summarizing or paraphrasing. But what is beautiful about it is you make sure that you understand what they're saying. Now. If you miss this step, then what'll happen is you'll you'll go off on the assumption that you understand what they were saying when in fact you may have misunderstood. And a lot of misunderstandings in the workplace, I believe come because people don't check for understanding. Now, some of the ways I check for understanding when I'm working with a group of people is I'll ask them to do it, do an assignment. So I might say, can you turn to the person sitting beside you and work on this? And then what I'll do is I'll go and I'll wander around the room and I'm checking in to see if they've actually understood my instructions. Or I might say to them, alright, this is what I would like you to do. Could I get a volunteer to tell me what you think you're heard? And then somebody will volunteer and they'll tell me what they think the instructions work. So there's lots of different ways that you can check for understanding. And when you're, when you're listening or you're working with people, whether it's one-on-one or with groups, is really important that you take the time to check in. So it goes both ways. Do they understand what you're saying? And most importantly, when you're the listener, Do you understand what they're saying? So now what I'd like you to do is I'd like you to take a few moments and I'd like you to think about a conversation that you've had in the past and I'd like you to check for understanding. So can you summarize or paraphrase what the person said? And keep in mind that it might take you a few tries. But this is a skill that the more you practice, the more automatic it will become. And it will become a tool that you put in your toolbox that you will just automatically use without a whole lot of effort or thought. So take some time right now and make a note of how important it is for you to check for understanding. And in your everyday interactions with people, start practicing checking for checking for understanding throughout your conversations. 7. Step 6: Peel the Onion: I spent about eight years teaching career and employment workshops. So i would help people find jobs. In fact, I've taught more than 500 workshops on things like career planning, resume writing, interview skills, work search. And what I realized in the courses is that people would come to the class because they wanted to find a job. That was the obvious reason why they were there. They needed a job and they needed help with figuring out what kind of job, how to put their resume together, how to develop their interview skills, or how to find a job. But as I got working with students and getting to know them better, what I realized is that, well, the, the, the initial problem that getting the job was obviously incredibly important. What was stopping them from getting out there? And saying to people, hey, you should hire me. Was a lot of concerns are stumbling blocks around things like MIT old do I have good enough skills? While people like me? Are there jobs out there? And people would come in with all these stumbling blocks that were getting in their way. So one of the things I began doing when I was teaching the workshops is, is creating a safe environment and trying to draw them out so that they could put those concerns on the table. And once we got those concerns out in the open, then we could deal with those concerns. So for example, if someone came to me and let's say they had been a plumber for a good portion of their life and they can no longer work as a plumber because of an injury. What we would do is we would address what other types of skills do they have? Their ability to learn, their ability to reinvent themselves, their ability to transition into a new role. And this is what I mean by peeling the onion. It's getting beyond sort of the obvious, the obvious things that people are saying and going deeper into it. Now, you're not going to go deeper all the time. Okay, so the example I gave earlier, a customer's upset because the coffee was cold. You, you don't have to go into a lot of detail like how how does that make you feel not not necessary? You just fix the problem. Here, what they have to say, get them a new coffee that's hot. But in some cases, peeling the onion or going deeper is incredibly important. And what we're going to do is ask the person to expand or clarify on their ideas. And we're going to use the techniques, the first five techniques that we use to become an exceptional listener, to go deeper. And we're going to use questions, a lot of questions. So tell me more about that. How did that make you feel? What would you do differently if you could? What could I help you with? And then we start to integrate these techniques to dig deeper and deeper, appeal the layers until we get to the heart of what the real issue is. Okay, now, let me give you another example. When I was running a gymnastics club, I had a coach come to me and she was upset because one of her gymnast was misbehaving, causing lots of problems. In the gym. And it was, it was really weird because this was one of our top gymnast. She was a highschool student, one of our best gymnast. And up until that point had never been a problem. But over the last couple months, the coach could see her slowly becoming more solid and didn't want to participate. In fact, it seemed like she didn't want to be there. So what I did is I asked to meet with the gymnast and her mom and the coach. And we all sat down together and we began having a conversation with it. And every time we would try to approach that maybe, you know, Jennifer's behavior wasn't appropriate. Her mom would get upset and start blaming the coach. Now, this didn't make a lot of sense to me because it was an excellent coach. They had had a great relationship. So what had changed? That's what I wanted to know. So I used all the skills that we're talking about becoming an exceptional listener. And I said to her, So it sounds like there's a conflict. Gymnast isn't getting along with the coach. And the mom said, yes, that's right. And the gymnast just got really quiet. And I was watching this young woman. And I realized there was more going on. There was something deeper. It wasn't just about the conflict with her in the coach. So I said to her, I asked, I said, what do your friends doing? And I'm not sure where this question came from. It just kind of popped into my head. I guess it was using my intuition, but I said, what do your friends doing? And she looked at me and she said there cheerleading and she lit up and at a big smile on her face and looked excited and enthusiastic. And at that point I realized that her heart just wasn't in gymnastics anymore and that was okay. But we needed to get to that. We needed to get to the heart of that before we could help resolve the issue. So what ended up happening is we were able to send the young girl back into the gym so we could talk to her mom privately. And we said, hey, it looks like she's just ready to move on to something else, ready to try something new. And in fact, she did, she went into cheerleading, became incredibly successful if cheerleading was able to use her skills as a gymnast to bring her team to a higher level. And it turned out to be a very positive thing for everybody. But it was, it was we almost missed that opportunity. We almost missed it if we would have just stopped at step five, which was check for understanding. Everybody was in agreement. Yes, there's conflict between the gymnast and the coach. But by going deeper, by peeling the onion, we were able to get to the heart of the real matter and find a solution that worked for everybody. So what I'd like you to do next is think about a situation that you're in. And perhaps somebody you've been talking to that might be upset about something. And I would just like you to think about how could you go a little bit deeper? How could you help them go deeper with that? By being an exceptional listener? 8. Bonus: Listening Between the Lines: One of the skills that you'll begin to master as you practice these listening skills is the ability to listen between the lines and to help you understand what I mean. I want to share with you a story about when my boyfriend and I first started dating. My boyfriend is a musician and he loves music, and I love music too. And one of the reasons we connected so well is this love of music that we have. But what I realized as we'd be listening to different different bands and he'd be playing with different bands is that I was hearing the music as a clump. So here's what I mean. I could get out on the dance floor and I be dancing. But I heard the music and the singing all together. And when my boyfriend and I would then talk after about the music, he would say things like, I love that guitar lick or that sax solo or that drum fill. And what I realized is we were actually hearing different things. So I was hearing the music all blend together. And he was hearing the music all separate. And what happened is as we spent more time together and I began critically listening to the music. And by critically, I don't mean, Oh, that music socks. I mean, what am I actually hearing here? I began to be able to differentiate between the, the lead guitar, the rhythm guitar, the bass guitar, the drums, and, and the SAC solos. And now I can actually hear the snare tone and what types of sticks or brushes the drummer might be using on the recording. So I can develop those skills where I went from music beam like a clump to being able to hear the different parts of the music. I know you can learn how to listen between the lines. Now it's going to take practice. In fact, all of these skills that I'm teaching you here in this class take practice. And the way I recommend that you practice is start by observing. So you can start watching other people in conversation. And notice, are they listening to each other or are they talking over each other? You can then begin noticing when you're in the middle of a conversation, are you talking over the person or are they talking over you? And then you take a step back and you go, how could I do this better next time? And eventually what will happen is in the moment you'd be able to catch yourself. Ooh, I've been talking a little bit too much. It's time for me to step back and listen. I need to ask them questions. I need to check my judgment. Am I being judgmental? Is this a safe environment for the other person? And you will start to use these tools naturally. Now the beautiful thing is, as you start to use these tools and you get really good at asking questions and checking for understanding and peeling the layers of the onion. As you start using all of these skills, you're going to start sensing what's really going on with the other person. And I call that listening between the lines. So when a client comes to me, let's say I'm coaching them on their public speaking and they want me to help them develop their speech. And we're working through the speech. I'm listening to everything they say, but I'm also listening between the lines to figure out what do they really mean and to help them draw that meaning out so that they can give an excellent speech. So that might sound a little esoteric. And, and you'll just have to trust me on this. But as you practice these skills and you become an exceptional listener, you'll begin sensing things and you'll be able to listen between the lines to get at what the real meaning is that the person is trying to express. So I'm going to encourage you to do lots of practicing. Step back, watch other people, analyze the interactions that you've had and think about ways that you can make them better next time. And know that listening is a skill. And if you take the time to practice the skill, you can become unexceptional listener.