With Oscar Trimboli, an author, host of the Apple award-winning podcast Deep Listening and a sought-after keynote speaker. Along with the Deep Listening Ambassador Community, he is on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the workplace. Through his work with chairs, boards of directors, and executive teams, Oscar has experienced first-hand the transformational impact leaders can have when they listen beyond words.

He believes that when leadership teams focus their attention and listening, they will build organizations that create powerful legacies for the people they serve – today and more importantly, for future generations.

Oscar is a marketing and technology industry veteran working for Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Polycom, and Vodafone. He consults with organizations including American Express, AstraZeneca, Cisco, Google, HSBC, IAG, Montblanc, PwC, Salesforce, Sanofi, SAP, and Siemens.

He is the author of how to listen – discover the hidden key to better communication – the most comprehensive book about listening in the workplace, Deep Listening – Impact beyond words and Breakthroughs: How to Confront Assumptions.

Oscar loves his afternoon walks with his wife, Jennie, and their dog Kilimanjaro. On the weekends, you will find him playing Lego with one or all his four grandchildren.

Join us for this conversation where you can gain insight into the various aspects of effective listening, practical methods for enhancing your listening skills, essential phrases that indicate genuine listening, and commonly overlooked aspects of listening.

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Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:

  • Why have most people never been taught how to listen effectively?
  • Difference between listening in a conversation vs listening in a pre-recorded or music.
  • Listening is a skill; it is a practice, a strategy.
  • “Listening is hard, it’s draining… And I say you’re doing it all wrong when you do it. It’s fun, light, and easy.”
  • “If you ask a question that’s got 8 words in it, as a rule of thumb linguistically, it’s a biased question.”
  • Listening for similarity vs. listening for difference.

“We’ve all been taught how to listen by our parents, teachers, friends, communities, cultures, by what role is modeled around us, but very few people really have any understanding of the neuroscience of listening.”

-Oscar Trimboli

Check out these highlights:

  • 06:49 Oscar talks about listening batteries that we usually do not realize that we have.
  • 11:52 How can you recharge your listening batteries?
  • 13:37 The role the water plays for your brain.
  • 27:03 What’s the dirty little secret of listening?
  • 29:03 Difference between a good listener and great listener.
  • 47:02 Oscar shares the importance of pausing when it comes to listening.

On social media:

How to get in touch with Oscar:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/oscartrimboli/

Learn more about Oscar, by visiting his website here.

Special gift for listeners: Get $20 off your full 5-page listening barriers report by visiting www.listeningquiz.com and use the code GGG.

Imperfect Show Notes

We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below:

GGGB Intro  00:00

Coming up today on Guts, Grit and Great Business®…

Oscar Trimboli  00:04

Do we pay attention to somebody? Or do we give attention to somebody? Now I want to caution you that neither is correct or incorrect, neither is right or wrong, neither is better or worse. What you need to be conscious of is which one’s appropriate for the kind of listening you need to provide in the moment.

GGGB Outro  00:28

The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:00

Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®. I’m so excited for our conversation today. I just can’t wait for this. I’ve been looking forward to this one. It’s going to be very different than any other conversation we’ve had on the podcast to date. And you’re gonna learn so much. Welcome to Oscar Trimboli. Welcome Oscar.

Oscar Trimboli  01:38

Hello Heather, looking forward to listening to our conversation together today.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:41

Oh, I’m so thrilled that you’re here and I know that I’m gonna have mindset shifts, I’m certain that our listeners will as well. For those of you that don’t know Oscar, Oscar Trimboli is an author, host of the Apple award-winning podcast Deep Listening and a sought-after keynote speaker. Along with the Deep Listening Ambassador Community, he is on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the workplace. Through his work with chairs, boards of directors, and executive teams, Oscar has experienced first-hand the transformational impact leaders can have when they listen beyond words. He believes that when leadership teams focus their attention and listening, they will build organizations that create powerful legacies for the people they serve – today and more importantly, for future generations. Oscar is a marketing and technology industry veteran working for Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Polycom, and Vodafone. He consults with organizations including American Express, AstraZeneca, Cisco, Google, HSBC, IAG, Montblanc, PwC, Salesforce, Sanofi, SAP, and Siemens. He is the author of how to listen – discover the hidden key to better communication – the most comprehensive book about listening in the workplace, Deep Listening – Impact beyond words and Breakthroughs: How to Confront Assumptions. Oscar loves his afternoon walks with his wife, Jennie, and their dog Kilimanjaro. On the weekends, you will find him playing Lego with one or all his four grandchildren. Sounds like you live at our house with the Legos and the dogs. Anyways, welcome to Oscar. I’m so happy to have you here.

Oscar Trimboli  03:33

Yeah, thanks, Heather. And listening is something that we all get a little bit frustrated with when other people aren’t doing it effectively. Most people have never been taught how to do it thus the quest for 100 million deep listeners in the workplace.

Heather Pearce Campbell  03:49

That’s so interesting. When you say it that way, most of us have not been taught how to do it the right way. Like who you know, who among us thinks like, oh, yeah, we actually need to be taught how to listen correctly.

Oscar Trimboli  04:03

One of our research pieces with we’ve had 22,000 people now take the listening quiz. We’ve tracked 14,110 people over for years. And when we ask people, you know, write yourself as a listener, well below average, below average, average, above average. And well above average. 74.9% of people rate themselves either as above average or well above, when we turn it the other way and ask them to rate others. 12% of people are rated above a well above average. So when the speaker is asked to evaluate the listener, they’re six times worse than what the listener thinks they are. And we have a self-assessment bias. One of the reasons that is we’ve all been taught how to listen, by our parents, by our teachers, by our friends, by our communities, by our cultures by what’s role modeled around us, but very few people really have any understanding of the neuroscience of listening, or even understanding the consequences of poor listening as well. So, the work we do with the deep listening Ambassador community is all about bringing awareness that the first place to start listening. It’s not focusing on the speaker, it’s actually focusing on yourself. When people can tune in here, our research tells us 86% of folks are stuck at level one, where they’re still tuned in to the many things going on from the last conversation, the next conversation, what they’re trying to prepare for dinner, what are they gotta do to take their kids out to sport could be happening for you right now.

Heather Pearce Campbell  05:43

I get it. The thing that I’m surprised by is when you say that most people still rate themselves as average or above average, above average, or well, above average. Because I feel like the pandemic, at least for me, as a parent, I was like, if I didn’t have ADHD before, I definitely do now, right being at home, we were talking a little bit before we went live about trying to parent having two children who are great kids, but also, I would say, fairly demanding, right? A puppy husband, like everybody being in the same space and feeling like I could just spend my entire day listening when I’ve got, you know, like other people a lot of things to do and to handle. And I think the challenge is knowing and I love that you raise this knowing when to listen, and how to have boundaries around when to listen so that we can do it well.

Oscar Trimboli  06:45

Many of us don’t realize that we have listening batteries. Many of us don’t realize that listening happens just behind the front of your skull, the modern part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. And we use a lot of working memory, this is a finite resource in our mind. And we can’t when it comes to listening in human dialogue, as opposed to listening to something that’s pre recorded while you’re driving or listening to music. You can definitely multitask. If you’re listening to something that’s routine, predictable, or music, it’s enjoyable, you can you can do another task while you’re doing that. But when it comes to listening, if you work in an environment where you’re trying to create something, if you work in an environment where there’s conflict, if you’re working with an environment that’s resource constrained if you work in an environment that requires collaboration, if you’re required to make decisions that involve trade off, sounds like every conversation we have in the workplace, right? Then the only thing you should actually be doing is listening. And what most people don’t do, the very first choice you have is the choice to decide to listen. Most people just because somebody’s talking to them are socially conditioned to go yes, yes. I will pretend are listening right now. But what they don’t realize they need to check their batteries. Is your listening battery green? Is it orange is a yellow? Is it red? Is it about to go black. The awareness to notice your listening batteries. Makes it a choice for when to listen, because the most generous and humane thing you could do sometimes, however, is to say, look, Heather, I acknowledge what you want me to listen to is really crucial and vital to right now. I have to tell you, I’ve had a really draining conversation immediately before this. And if we could come back in an hour, my listening batteries will be fully charged and I’ll be able to help move your thinking forward. Or tomorrow is a great time I’ve got a free slot at 11. And this is magnified by video conference as well, because we don’t have the gap in between that we normally had in the past. In the past, if you’re working in a work environment. You had the opportunity to physically move from a meeting to a meeting. And that helped us slightly recharge our listening batteries. So here’s here’s a fun hack. However, if you want to recharge your listening batteries because there’s no no point me saying, Well, if you’re listening, battery’s drained, do it tomorrow. We’ll do it later. Play music, just one song that’s all you need. So in the book, we talk about the three three songs I’m very deliberate about I have a song that’s very instrumental, very slow, 80 beats per minute. It’s called weightless by Marconi Union. Most people will never have heard of it. The second song easy by Groove Armada about 125 to 130 beats per minute. And then the last one, remember the name I thought mine about 180 beats per minute. And depending on the conversation, I’m trying to recharge my batteries around, I’ll pick the song. Now, the song doesn’t take long, but it rewires your neurology. It helps you. People say to me, Oscar, listening is hard. It’s draining. I don’t look forward to listening. And I say you’re doing it all wrong when you do it. Well. It’s fun. It’s light. And it’s easy. But most people haven’t been taught how have you got some favorite songs that you might choose to play to recharge your listening batteries?

Heather Pearce Campbell  10:40

Oh, totally. Well, this reminds me you say that. And I just think, one, you know, for anybody who feels a strong connection to music, which I think if you’re human, you probably are saying yes to that, right? And, but it’s easy to forget. And last night, my daughter came in, she has not been feeling well. She’s a little person. She’s five. And I’ve got Alexa right over there. Right, I’m pointing to this little side table, there’s a sofa behind me. And she just started playing, telling Alexa to play certain songs. And my daughter is very upbeat. And you know, and I was like, after a few songs, I was like Henly, you’re a really good DJ. But I’ve been kind of grinding away at work. And I just took a music break, right? Not from the context of listening, like you’re talking about, but totally felt recharged, like stood up with her and had that little, you know, and it wasn’t long, a couple of minutes of music. And so I definitely can understand why that works. And I’m still just so enamored with the idea that we have listening batteries.

Oscar Trimboli  11:46

And depending on where you get your energy from B just need to be cautious. Some people recharge their listening batteries in one on one discussions, and some people recharge their listening batteries much faster in group discussions. So you need to be conscious, hey, I’ve got a listening battery, you know, it’s a very simple concept to transfer from your phone. And next time you’re looking at your phone, look at the phone battery, maybe there’s a correlation towards the end of the day that you’re listening batteries are drained. Look, if you run your own business to one of the things, I would often say it’s difficult to separate work from home home from work. And if you are in a place where you take a phone call, and you’re heading home and you’re running your own business, park two blocks away from your home to finish the call, finish the call two blocks away. So it gives you some separation between you and your business to you and what you might be chasing. And that to block distance. It’s long enough for a song to play. So once you hang up the phone, play a song and bring yourself back to home. So you can be available so that your family can listen to you when your loved ones can listen to you as well. So this concept of a listening battery plays out in many ways. Now, the reality is you may be in a conversation, whether that’s got some kind of power differential, and you can’t say no, well, no, not right now I can’t have that conversation. You need to be conscious of that as well. The second thing I would recommend for you is drink water. Hydrated brain is a listening brain, the brain 5% of body mass yet it consumes 26% of blood sugar. So for highly complex cognitive tasks like listening, sometimes our head hurts because we’re actually dehydrated, it’s got nothing to do with what’s going on. So a glass of water every half an hour is a good rule of thumb, how large or small you make that glass of water is up to you. It’s just not the size of the shock class. And it’s probably not the size of the beer market somewhere in between those two.

Heather Pearce Campbell  14:12

What comes to mind as you say all of this is just like, so much of what you’re saying sounds like mindfulness. Right? It sounds like this, there must be this connection. And I love what you said first about the first step of listening is really not about other people. It’s about tuning into yourself. And I just think of how frequently we don’t do that. Right? We’re in these worlds and lifestyles and workplaces and for me, my workplace being home currently with small children and how frequently we are called upon and demands are made of us that that we feel like we don’t necessarily get to control All, but what we do get to control is the tuning in, right and checking with ourselves and doing what we can to take care of ourselves. And I just love that the strategies you are sharing feel so accessible.

Oscar Trimboli  15:15

Yeah, I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t studied the field of mindfulness and I respect all people in that field, I think it’s super important work. And listening is a skill. It’s a practice, it’s a strategy. And for many of us, just really basic building blocks are crucial to build a foundation towards listening. Because one of the things we don’t even notice is our attention. So do we pay attention to somebody? Or do we give attention to somebody? Now want to caution you that neither is correct or incorrect, neither is right or wrong, neither is better or worse. Why you need to be conscious of is which one is appropriate for the kind of listening you need to provide in the moment, whether it’s giving or paying attention, you can’t do either continuously. So you need to be super choice for about that moment. When you’re giving or paying attention. When you’re paying attention. It feels like a duty and obligation or responsibility taxation. When you’re giving attention. It feels like an act of generosity, it feels like an act of empathy, it feels like something that’s a shared experience. Now, again, neither is right or wrong. If you give attention continuously, those listening batteries are gonna go from green to red, in less than 30 minutes, unless you’re a trained therapist, and listening is not therapy. However, let’s not confuse people with that. So for many of us to be choice all about even where we direct our attention. For things that are kind of pragmatic and procedural giving your attention is completely inappropriate, you probably want to pay attention to that if you’re negotiating the last four clauses on a contract to exit your business and sell it to a bigger organization, now’s a really good time to get attention. Because those last four paragraphs are the ones you’ve probably both been struggling with for a couple of weeks or months in regard to exiting your, your business, your passion, your organization. So just that consciousness I want, I don’t think people are aware that listening starts with them. Number two, I don’t think they’re aware of the quality of their attention. And the third thing most people aren’t aware of when it comes to their listening is whether they listen for similarity, or whether they listen for difference. Now, if you’re brought up in an English speaking Western education system, you are literally trained, from the day you go to kindergarten, to listen for similarities to pattern match, to make sure that the evidence lines up in a way that’s got a predictable pattern. So yet the breakthroughs were great entrepreneurial outcomes are achieved. And occasionally listening for similarities and noticing patterns. And then thinking differently about that. I’d love to tell you a story about Jennifer and Christopher. But have you got any kind of SpiderMan tingly feeling about listening for similarity and difference and which one you do have?

Heather Pearce Campbell  18:40

Oh, well, first of all, I love just looking at listening from that lens. Right? Because I wouldn’t I don’t think most of us think about it from that standpoint of like, even the direction that we’re trained to listen in. Right?

Oscar Trimboli  18:54

Low teaches precedent, which is just a bunch of listen for similarity, right?

Heather Pearce Campbell  19:00

Oh, for sure. What I wondered is whether our brain naturally is inclined to look out for the difference like which one of these doesn’t look like the other right, from a safety survival kind of a standpoint. So I’m not sure which I do. I suspect both because I do like patterns. And I think I recognize them, like a lot of humans pretty easily. But also, despite my analytical, logical brain, I have a really strong creative half as well. I’m pretty equal brained. And so I think looking for the differences I really enjoy as a as a person. So I’m not actually sure which one I do more of.

Oscar Trimboli  19:47

So we’ve asked this question globally to over 60,000 people when we’ve run webinars and keynote speaking events for the last five years and pretty consistently it’s in the range of 88 to 92% of people say they listen for similarities as their primary listening preference and 10 to 8% of folks are listening in the range for difference. Now, it’s a false binary because the useful answer, the productive answer is I listened for both. But most people are conscious that they’re listening for votes. And this played out to its logical conclusion is political discourse. Besides, the other party can’t do a single thing, right? Everything they do is wrong. And everything we do is right. So that’s play out listening for similarity to its logical conclusion and not being curious enough to be open to the possibility. So Jennifer was looking after three kids at home, she was a primary school teacher, but she decided for a period of time, she was going to look after her kids at home, and her son, Christopher, he came home from school. And in a very enthusiastic, excited way, said, Mommy, mommy, I’m so excited. I learned maths, I learned division. I learned the three is half of eight. Now remember, Jennifer’s got kids running around the house, and maybe she misheard him and she said, Honey, could you say that again? And he said, I’ll I learned the three is half of eight today, mummy, and she put her hands in her face. And she thought, ah, what are they teaching kids at school these days, and she went to the kitchen cupboard. And she got a packet of m&ms out for her son, Christopher. And she had lined up the m&ms four by four like little chocolate soldiers are facing each other. And she said to Christopher, honey, could you count the chocolate soldiers in this row and 11234 Mommy, how many on the other side. And he said for mommy, they’re all facing each other. They’re all chocolate soldiers standing at attention. And she said see Christopher for not three is half of eight. And rather than debate his mom, he leapt off the kitchen bench like Superman, went to the corner cupboard and got a Sharpie. And on a piece of paper, it drew the figure eight. And he folded the piece of paper in half that had the figure eight on it. And then he tore it in half and show to his mom, that when you cut it in half, it’s actually three, right? Now what’s interesting, however, if you take that same eight, although than half horizontally, zero is half of eight to zero is half of eight, three is half of eight and four is half of eight. Now, if you are listening for similarities, your mind would be going oh my god, they’ve lost your mind Oscar you but it’s not three years out of eight, it’s four is half of a whether that’s on the Moon and Mars, the bottom of the ocean for is half of eight. And what you’re doing is you’re listening for similarities, you’re listening, and pattern matching. Now, what you don’t know about Christopher, is he graduated college nearly three years earlier than his peers. What you don’t know about Christopher is is now a world champion, Bug Catcher. He catches some of the most amazing bugs in the world and the kinds of bugs I’m talking about a computer software bugs, not butterflies and other things. And some of you when I say bug catcher, you may visualize somebody with a net, because you’re listening for similarities. By the way, hear that? Were you catching butterflies? Or were you thinking computer software?

Heather Pearce Campbell  23:35

It was catching butterflies on the first one. But when you said that he he decided that three was half a bait. I knew exactly what he’d done.

Oscar Trimboli  23:46

So he was thinking in geometry. And his mom was thinking in arithmetic. And for you, as a business owner, listening to this, you’re having conversations with staff, with customers, with suppliers with legal providers, and you’re screaming because they don’t get that you’re trying to explain to them that three is half of a because they’re only listening to what you say, not what you mean. Now, Christopher has an amazing way of experiencing the world. He experiences the world through visual patterns. And what you don’t know about Christopher is his neurodiverse. Some people might call him autistic. And he perceives the world in a very different way. And that’s why it makes him into a world champion Bug Catcher. But most of us are listening to what people say not what they think. Not what they mean. And I’m curious what you’re taking away from the Christopher story for you, Heather.

Heather Pearce Campbell  24:50

Well, my creative brain is loving it, right? It’s reinforcing what I already know, right? I have a child who’s neurodiverse and so this, so much of the conclusions that we draw, have to do with our perspective going in, which is also why I love this conversation around. You know, the fact that we’re never taught to listen, really when you think about it and listen the right way. The fact that there is a quality that we can bring to our listening or not, that makes a dramatic difference to the outcome, and how probably even so many people, even those of us that really care about listening, are still doing it wrong, right? And thinking, how do we do it better? And what are the ways that are doing it wrong, is impacting, like for me automatically, I think the little people in my life, the big people in my life, right? My business, but certainly the little people because I think as as parents, I’ll just speak to my own experience coming out of the pandemic and feeling so constrained during that period, stretched to the nth degree on a daily basis. Sure, my listening suffered, I’m sure it has suffered. I’m sure that many days I did it wrong.

Oscar Trimboli  26:15

Yeah. A big con to yourself. It’s okay. My wish for the world is if they knew these three numbers, listening would be really easy for everybody listening or be like, listening would be transformational. When you listen, in a world where zero is half of a three is half of a four is half of eight. And who knows what else it could be when you listen with this orientation. Your businesses are more profitable. And if you’re trying to sell them, they’re worth more, because you’re solving bigger problems because you’re hearing your customers really unmet unspoken needs that they don’t tell anybody else. So first, the dirty little secret of listening. However, it’s not your job as the listener to comprehend what the speaker is saying. It’s your job to help the speaker, understand what they’re thinking, and what they mean. When you do that, you create more loyal customers, more loyal employees, suppliers will go the extra mile for you. So let’s have a little chat about the three numbers 125, 400, 900, these three numbers if you know them, listening is really, really simple. There’s my wish for the world and the deep listening Ambassador community. Once people know these numbers, confusion and chaos, conflict frustration in the workplace, kind of evaporates. We know that when people know these three numbers, meetings are shorter, who who doesn’t love the shorter meeting, right?

Heather Pearce Campbell  27:57

As he was getting a round of applause right now from everybody listening, like tell me how.

Oscar Trimboli  28:04

And more importantly, the meetings, you do have this fewer of them. So not only you’re having less meetings, but the meetings you do have are even shorter. So let’s come back to these numbers. When you know these numbers, that’ll be the byproduct and you’ll get more time with your family, you’ll get more time with your loved ones, you’ll get more time to do the things you really want to do because nobody wants to be in a bad meeting. 125 words per minute, is my speaking speed on average in a western speaking workplace that ranges from 125 to 150. But 125 is is a good guy. When you’re listening to a horse race color or a caveat auctioneer is speaking at about 200 words per minute, and you can completely understand everything they’re saying 200 words per minute. That is because you can listen at 400 words per minute. So we have peripheral vision, which means we can say things out of the corner of our eyes. And we have peripheral hearing, which means we can hear things that are not in our immediate zone of attention. A good listener gets distracted, a great listener knows they’ll be distracted and they have rituals, practices and processes to come back into the conversation really quickly. So right now you may even be listening to this recording on YouTube, but two times speed you may be listening to the podcast two times maybe even faster speed. And that’s okay if the accent, the topic and the context is familiar to you. You can listen up to 400 words per minute and have complete comprehension. Now you’re testing the boundaries of human performance. We know that visually impaired people can listen consistently. Three times speed at complete comprehension, independent of context independent of accent independent of who’s speaking. Therefore, you’re genetically programmed to be distracted so we can survive what was that rustle in the bushes in the corner? that’s important to know, when you’re a human out there in the savanna, it might just help you avoid the lion for a day. So you can listen four times faster than I can speak. Yet it’s worse. Let’s go to 900. If you remember, any number out of these three, please remember 900 900 words per minute is your average thinking speed in a western speaking English speaking workplace 900 words per minute, if you work in an environment that involves creativity, collaboration, some kind of constraint, anything that’s time bound, you may be thinking up to 1600 words per minute, but on average, people are thinking at 900 words per minute. Here’s the dilemma. Here’s the dichotomy. Here’s the paradox. If I think at 900 words per minute, I can only speak at 125, it means the first thing I say is 14%. Of what I mean. And if you have a conversation with someone with the first 14% of what they say, you’re missing out on the 86%, that they haven’t said, good listeners, focus on what said, great, the listeners notice what’s not said. They listen to what’s unsaid, has all that math washing over you Heather.

Heather Pearce Campbell  31:22

My math brain loves it. I love numbers, and I love math. So part of me is delighted because the visual part of my brain can see, right see the difference and see the gap and understand how, how significant that is.

Oscar Trimboli  31:39

So there’s three magic phrases that will help you tap into what’s not said anymore. And when you know these phrases, and look, we’ll just play with that a bit. Notice how that couldn’t really stay comfortable with the silence. She had to fill in the gap. But I think she was being a great podcast host where you know, people might have been shaking a big play guy.

Heather Pearce Campbell  32:09

Yeah, was your coy smile that you gave right? As you said that and then paused? Right?

Oscar Trimboli  32:15

First thing to point out, is this linguistically? If you ask a question that’s got more than a words in it, as a rule of thumb, linguistically, it’s a biased question. So if your questions got more than eight words in it, it’s biased. Now, let’s wind that back bias is not good or bad. If you’re prioritizing, you probably want to ask a bias question. If you’re allocating finite resources, if you’re decision making, you probably want to become biased in that case, but too many of us only operate. In a world where we only ask bias questions, we ask bias questions, so we can reload the ammunition in our conversation or flow so that we’ve got more bullets to fire at the other person.

Heather Pearce Campbell  33:01

Right. My legal brain is calling this a leading question, right?

Oscar Trimboli  33:05

A leading question. Do you have an example of a leading question we could share with the group? 

Heather Pearce Campbell  33:12

Right. Well, it’s the difference between did you versus when you. It’s assuming something rather than asking a question that can be answered yes or no right? Or different ways.

Oscar Trimboli  33:29

So conversely, questions with eight words or less are typically considered neutral, they’re considered open, they consider not bias. And again, if you ask a bunch of open-ended questions continuously, it will drive people completely nuts. Because they don’t think you’re listening. So use your judgment, but be conscious that most of us don’t understand that from the way we speak, were already coded to speak in a biased way.

Heather Pearce Campbell  33:59

No, so interesting. I was gonna say they don’t think you’re listening, or they think you’re imitating a five year old. Why, Mommy? Why? What’s that? Right? Like you like the simplest form of a question.

Oscar Trimboli  34:14

And when I interview suicide counselors, and hostage negotiators, they would say be very, very, very careful when you use why questions, definitely don’t open up with them. Simon Sinek has got a lot to answer for and he’s got a lot to answer for a Seattle talk. That’s gone viral around Ted now. Simon Sinek talked about start with why. But everybody has picked that up and said, start every conversation with why what Simon was saying. Simon said, start with why when it comes to organizational purpose, but everybody’s picked that up and put that in there. Now what the suicide counselors and hostage negotiators, and even Supreme Court judges that I’ve interviewed why questions are loaded with judgment. If you think about the first time have you ever got asked a why question? Could you speculate when was the first time you ever got asked a why question growing up?

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:20

Oh, I don’t know. But probably around. Why did you do that?

Oscar Trimboli  35:26

Yeah, it was asked by your parents. When you did something that wasn’t socially acceptable. You might have spilled the milk. You may have broken away we did up in the curtains. Oh, that sounds like an interesting story.

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:41

Yeah, it’s also the first time I told a lie.

Oscar Trimboli  35:44

Oh, so where were you were tell us about these curtains. I feel like you’re very loyal listeners haven’t heard this story.

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:53

They haven’t. And the other funny thing that they should know is like, I’m generally in my life. Not all that inclined to tell lies. I’m a fairly open person. I luckily at this age don’t have a lot of shame. I’m sure I did when I was younger. But this was my first lie. Remember, it’s so clearly the one thing and I have no idea we were poor in Idaho. And our curtains were nothing to shout about. Like, I don’t understand why my mom was so concerned about the curtains. But we were not supposed to wrap up in them, right? Twist up. And the funny… 

Oscar Trimboli  36:30

How old are you again?

Heather Pearce Campbell  36:32

The funny thing, yes, is now I have a five year old guess what she loves to do with our floor length curtains that are you know, it’s actually really shear when on the inside of the bathroom. We have this bathroom door that has French doors, basically. And anyways, I get it. And at the time as a kid, I didn’t understand like, what is such a big deal about these curtains. So, of course, my parents went somewhere. My brother and I were playing a game, and I’m sure I was hiding from him. So what did I do? I wrapped up in the curtains. Well, my mom could tell she got home and she knew and you know, it was like, we I don’t feel like we have that many rules like that about like, don’t touch this or don’t do that. But there I had done it wrapped up in the curtains. And so of course, when they asked who did that it was like, not me, not me the typical not me, right. And then later, I came down because I could not live with myself. We got sent to our bedrooms, and I just couldn’t I was unbearable. So I had to come downstairs and confess that it actually was me.

Oscar Trimboli  37:38

Oh, what I’m curious about is that listening to you tell that story feels very visceral. It comes from the hole of your body. It’s not something that’s very intellectual only Is that true?

Heather Pearce Campbell  37:51

Probably. Yeah.

Oscar Trimboli  37:53

And could you smell a room you’re in? 

Heather Pearce Campbell  37:56

Well, oh, yeah, like dusty, not like I said, not very nice curtains, right. And it’s right by our back doors. And so I can see exactly where they were.

Oscar Trimboli  38:06

And as a result, the meaning you took from that story is.

Heather Pearce Campbell  38:11

You know, I think probably like, as I look at it now, from an adult perspective, and knowing more about my mom’s journey, there were not a lot of nice things in her life at the time. And so I think it took a lot of effort to keep a house full of kids looking put together. And like curtains being twisted up and knotted up, or whatever I did to them. You know, it was just like, one of those triggering signs for her that things were not as they should be, right? So, you know, I think that was a hard time in her life. My mom came from a family where she didn’t grow up feeling worried about being provided for and marrying my dad and having children of her own and a lot of financial insecurity. Like she just had a whole new experience of life that was brought in a lot of stress and a lot of burden.

Oscar Trimboli  39:10

And what we’ve just heard is the difference between a story about a five year old girl twisting in curtains versus what it meant to her mom. And as you listen to this, this is a beautiful example, when you’re listening beyond the words, you’ll start to listen to what it actually means. See that magic Houdini trick I just did with you there, Heather, that’s trying to help the audience understand that, number one, they love the fact you share that part of your life with them. So thank you for doing that. I think it’s created a completely different connection with you. But maybe for you to have a different kind of connection with your mom in a way you hadn’t thought about before, too.

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:56

Oh, totally. Yeah, absolutely.

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:59

Yeah, totally. I think the thing that I was reflecting on is the power of listening done well, which is what you just demonstrated for us, is the times like and for listeners right now listening to this podcast, the times that you have sat with somebody in your life, whether it was for two minutes or 10 minutes or an hour, and felt deeply listened to. I’m guessing that for most of us, that has happened less than a handful of times. Like that’s the stark reality I think of when you truly connect to what it means to either have demonstrated for you or have experienced listening done well. It’s not your everyday experience for most people.

Oscar Trimboli  39:59

And then the multi-generational implications of that with your daughter and her own curtain twisting going on as well. So I think, when you present enough to know, back to my point is it’s not my job to comprehend what you said, it’s my job to help you understand what it means for you. So, for me, what it means to you is to be a mom today. And what it was like for your mom then and kinda you did a bit of a compare and contrast. And I sent some deep empathy and some gratitude for where you’re at right now and gratitude for your mom and all the things that she did for you. And in a weird way, it’s like, wow, this listening stuff, Oscar, I get where you’re going, right? Is that when you smelt the dust? That’s where I was going, right?

Heather Pearce Campbell  40:56

I’ve been told that Eckhart Tolle is the person who said this quote, the line between listening and love is completely invisible. Now when I mean love, I don’t mean in a romantic way, I just mean one human acknowledging another human in a way that the humans can do. Thanks for sharing that with the audience. I bet. When you got on today, you didn’t think we’d be twirling?

Heather Pearce Campbell  42:23

Curling curtains? Lie? Yeah.

Oscar Trimboli  42:29

I think just remember this. If all you do is fixate on one people say you’re gonna miss the joy, the richness and the connection that we just experienced together. And I don’t mean Heather, and I mean, you listening to Heather, I am just an interloper in this conversation. I’m galloping like a gazelle through the savanna of this podcast series. But the amazing Heather, your host holding this space, you’ve learned something amazing and powerful about her head, I’ll give you three questions to help unpick what’s not said. And when you do this, you’ll create the experience we’ve just created, you’ll have a person physically change their body state, viscerally their head will sit differently on their skull and on the top of their spine, their shoulders will change position, their eyes will change position their breathing will change as well. Make these your own. So I’m going to give you three words, right?

Heather Pearce Campbell  43:38

This is a writer downer folks.

Oscar Trimboli  43:40

This is a writer downer. But my point is make it your own up to eight. So the first phrase is and you would have heard Heather use it before. Tell me more. They don’t say tell me more. Sneaky your own personalize it. I’m fascinated. Tell me more. I’m curious. Tell me more.

Heather Pearce Campbell  44:08


Oscar Trimboli  44:09

Tell me more. If you just say tell me more. It may feel really mechanical. It may feel like you’re in a deposition with Heather and she’s gotta get all the details.

Heather Pearce Campbell  44:23

Directed to be telling somebody more.

Oscar Trimboli  44:27

So three words, make it your own. Keep up within eight. Easy to remember. Tell me more? Number two, and what else? Now please don’t ask these questions consecutively because you’ll create the impression you actually haven’t listened to. So pick one of these and make them your own. Pick one of these three phrases and make them your own. And what else? Now if you wanted to abbreviate this one, you can do it skillfully and elegantly and empathetically, you can simply say, hmm and I was in a workshop in a really big group in in a hotel room and the leader was saying something. And I happened to be there. And I simply turned to her and I said, Hmm, and I walked away. And she ended up writing an internal blog post about it that completely changed her leadership style. Because she had a moment to reflect on her own thinking, notice, I didn’t have to stay there for the end. Now, that’s a very specific context. Please don’t walk away from somebody’s conversation when you’ve said and it was in the middle of the workshop where we were teaching these three questions. First one, tell me more. Next one, and what else could be abbreviated to add? The third one is the most powerful. Use this with compassion and care. If you use this incorrectly, it could feel like intimidation. Use this when you’re in a relationship with somebody. You can use this a lot more when you’re in a relationship and meeting someone for the first time. If you’re meeting someone for the first time. Probably don’t use this phrase. This is the ninja move of listening. This is the phrase that we know consistently. Across all English speaking workplace cultures, get people to describe what they haven’t said. Listen carefully. Here it comes.

Oscar Trimboli  46:37

Now, don’t worry, nothing froze on the video cameras, nothing stopped in the recording. And there’s no coincidence that the woods silent and listen share the identical letters. And people will make the sound that Heather’s just made. When you pause. In the West, we call it the awkward silence, the pregnant pause, the deafening silence, we have this malformed relationship with silence in high context cultures, the Inuit, the Eskimo of North America, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Polynesian cultures, the Maori cultures, the indigenous cultures, Australia, the Amazon cultures, and the Eurasian cultures, the great travelling horsemen of the North. Silence is a sign of wisdom. It’s a sign of respect. It’s a sign of authority. And it’s also a technique used to bring the group together for the purpose in which it’s gathered. Using silence to tune the group into itself, is a technique unfamiliar in the West better not? If you go to a Japanese meeting, as an example. So some times I was working with West Point Military Academy, the the leader I was working with basically said, you know, I’ve got a really big problem interrupting, what’s the one tip you give me? And I said, Well, I would suggest count, 1 1001 1002 1003 1000. When you notice they’ve paused because they haven’t finished speaking, they just pausing. I came back a month later and said, How did you go with that? And they go? Not so good. I took it, I took it to its logical conclusion as like, Oh, what was that? Well, 1 1002 1003 1000 wasn’t working for me. And I ended up biting through part of my tongue to stop myself from listening. Now, this is West Point, Military Academy, they have a different relationship with pain than most of us do. So please don’t bite your tongue. When it comes to listening to the other. Look, I’m not a perfect listener, and you train and teach what you want to improve on yourself. Personally. I’ve got lots of flaws to myself. But what I realized how there is, if I’m available to me, I can be available for someone else. And that’s the work for all of us. 86% of people in our research, we’re all stuck at level one with a distraction of life around us, whether that’s children, whether it’s our office, whether it’s our business, whether it’s electronic notifications, if we can tame that monster by pretending we’re an orchestra musician and merely tuning our instrument before we go into the performance. Listening become slightly uneasy and listening batteries will get recharged rather than drained in the conversation.

Heather Pearce Campbell  49:46

I love that so much. I mean, I feel like here we are, I know out of respect for your time. I have to acknowledge we’re at the top of the hour and like I have so many more questions like I know you did a massive listening tour, right? Basically like 20,000 folks that you’ve researched over workplace listening, right? 100, you have interviewed over 100 of the world’s most diverse listeners, there’s still so much that we could cover. And I’m so grateful for what you’ve given us, it’s been so rich and deep and, and also accessible. That’s what I love about this is like, when you think about meditation, I think there’s a lot of people that think I can’t do it, and I don’t do it, because it feels so hard. And because we do have these busy brains, right. And sometimes the whole point of meditation is just to, like, be quiet and get quiet and stay quiet. And that’s really a challenge. But what you’ve given us I feel like are just very accessible strategies for pausing, being in the moment with ourselves checking in with ourselves first. And then just with a very few simple strategies, being able to really change how we show up for people and listen. And even the difference between choosing the words, paying attention or giving attention, right, the mindfulness around just recognizing which of those things are we doing? The significant.

Oscar Trimboli  51:30

I’ll finish up with a funny story about meditation. I was asked to, I hear he asked her do you meditate you into meditation, I guess, like, never meditated in my life. And eventually, I thought, you know, everyone’s telling me to meditate, maybe I should listen, you know. So 2011, I decided I’ve never meditated in my life. I’ve never done yoga, none of those things. So I decided to do a 12-day, silent meditation in the mountains around our city. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  52:08

Like, let’s not just dip our toe, and let’s like, into the…

Oscar Trimboli  52:12

Hot coal, you know, that would be like doing CrossFit permanently 724. So the ritual is very simple, the gong goes at 330 in the morning, you’ve got half an hour for ablutions, meditation starts at 4am, etc, etc. First meal is at 8am. Next meals at noon, next meals are 4pm. That’s it for the day. And then you finish meditating at 8pm. And you get to sleep at 8pm. Get up at 330 in the morning, repeat. And we were on this huge concrete floor. I don’t know anybody, we don’t know each other because we’re not allowed to talk. Huge storm blows through the venue. And the venue is the concrete floor itself is heated, it’s the middle of winter, but the powers been knocked out. So we get given a choice on day three, you can go home, or you can stay here but you’ll be meditating on cold concrete. For it’s like, okay, well, I’ll put the time in my calendar, I’ll just do that. So I did. And then on the last day, the teacher basically says to all of us, you are now going to go back into your real world. Don’t be upset with yourself, if you can’t meditate like this. And the gift they gave me was this Heather. Meditation isn’t a time or a place that you go to. Meditation is a state of mind. And you’ll have to use your American cereal equivalent of this, and I’m not sure what it is. But the teacher basically said, if you can meditate whilst eating your cornflakes in the morning, that’s all the meditation you need to do if you can meditate while you’re drinking a cup of tea. That’s all the meditation you need to do. Meditation needs to be integrated, not a discrete practice. And for me, that was such a liberating thing to hear. And I’ve never ever meditated one hour in my life with cross legs since that day, but am I conscious every time I eat something that I need to be grateful for what’s going into my body and to come to presence? You betcha. So don’t meditate is by parting thought.

Heather Pearce Campbell  54:33

Oh my gosh, I first of all, there’s so much I love around that story. But the idea of integration, the idea even as you said that, that I thought listening can be meditation, right? Walking can be meditation, any of these things that we’re choosing and tuning in to do and be mindful of can be or meditation. I love that so much. Oscar, what a joy. I’ve loved having you here. I love your area of expertise. This is so important to so many of us and, and I think so many people really care about this. And like you said, they just have never known how to really do it the right way. So I thank you for being here and giving us so much to think about. And some really great but simple in that they’re accessible. I’m not saying they’re easy, right? That’s different. It’s up to us to decide how easy they are or not by doing them. But I really am grateful to you for sharing your wisdom. I know you have a quiz, a listening quiz. Do you want to take one second? Tell us about that. Not literally one second, but just a minute and tell us about your listening quiz. And then we’ll point people in the right direction.

Oscar Trimboli  55:48

Yeah, learn your listening barrier. If you take the seven minute listening quiz, and most people finish in four and a half minutes, you can answer 20 questions about yourself. And we’ll tell you what your primary listening barrier is. But more importantly, we’ll give you three tips about what to do about it. They’re as simple and as practical as the ones I’ve talked about already. And listeningquiz.com will open up a gateway to our great range of free resources, including our free 90-day listening challenge to practice that for a period of 90 days. And the podcasts that you reference where you can listen to world class listeners, whether that’s air traffic controllers of journalists, judges, neuroscientists, people who study animals, and you can learn about listening from deaf and blind people as well.

Heather Pearce Campbell  56:37

We love that so much. If you are listening now pop over check out the show notes because we are going to share the link to Oscar’s listening quiz to his podcast deep listening. Oscar, I know before we went live, I said, I’ll end with where do you like for people to connect with you? And he’s like, I don’t know. Let’s send them to a listening quiz. I also love you for that. I think it’s so good when we know our boundaries. And we’re so clear on what is for us and what is not for us. Anything.

Oscar Trimboli  57:09

I think I think my ego would love everybody to connect with me. But my higher purpose 100 million deep listeners in the workplace means that my invitation for you is to learn more about what gets in the way of your listening. And when you take the quiz you’ll find a series of ways to connect with me if you want to. And we’ve just finished a lovely asked me anything. Interview with one of our deep listening ambassadors for Japan, where we talked about when you should not listen. When is the time to choose how do you decide when it’s effective and humane not to listen to somebody? So listeningquiz.com Hey there, thanks for putting them in the show notes. And yeah, I’m delighted to come back. We haven’t covered the four villains of listening. We haven’t covered the five levels of listening. Happy to come back. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  58:02

And I love that.

Oscar Trimboli  58:03

Send your questions to Heather. I’ll be happy to answer them on the next time we get together.

Heather Pearce Campbell  58:08

We’ll do a round two. This is an important topic. Thank you, Oscar.

Oscar Trimboli  58:13

Thanks for listening.

GGGB Outro  58:18

Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.