Listening more effectively

In our day-to-day lives, it is easy to fall into the trap of checking boxes rather than listening to understand. We often find ourselves conversing with one eye on the clock and another on the topics we must cover. However, this approach could be more helpful in genuinely understanding the person we speak to. Dr Mark Goulston, a UCLA-trained psychiatrist and former professor, has dedicated his career to helping people to listen more effectively and understand more deeply.

Michelangelo Mindset Cofounder and Author

Dr Goulston co-founded the Michelangelo Mindset, a program designed to help people see into the future and make it happen. He is also the author of nine books, including 'Just Listen', now translated into 28 languages to become the top book on listening in the world. He is also the inventor of "surgical empathy," an approach he used for 25 years with suicidal patients, none of whom took their own lives.

The look in their eyes

His unique way of communicating is to hear and see you, and in his interview on the Wisepreneurs podcast, he offered insight into the importance of listening. When he was a psychiatrist, he often had to help people who felt suicidal. His mentor, Dr Ed Schneidman, would refer him to patients discharged from the inpatient ward. On seeing them, he noticed that they had a look in their eyes that said, "You're ticking boxes, and I'm running out of time."

Listen to hear their pain

This experience taught Dr Goulston an important lesson: it is essential to listen to understand, not just to check boxes. He realised that if he was to help these people truly, he had to choose to keep checking boxes or grab onto their eyes and see where their eyes took him. He chose the latter, taking him into his patients' pain.

Dr Goulston’s experience is a powerful reminder of the importance of listening more deeply and understanding more fully. We are all too quick to check boxes and move on, but if we take the time to listen and understand, we can have much more meaningful conversations and relationships.

Listening to understand is a skill we can all benefit from, and Dr Goulston's story is a powerful reminder of its importance.