These Three Words Will Change Your Life

Mark Goulston & Nan Palmero
I’m a fixer. I’ve grown up that way, my friends have always looked to me for advice and answers and I kinda like it. The problem that we fixers encounter is that not everyone wants to be fixed. As my pal Kevin Joyce once told me “Nan, if there’s a fire, you’re the guy to get everyone out safely.” I smiled. He followed my smile by lovingly saying “…but, there isn’t always a fire.” UGH.

In Jason Headley’s “It’s Not About the Nail” video, he illustrates this perfectly. The nail is so obvious to the man, but the woman just wants to be heard. Dr. Mark Goulston’s brilliant book, which I read repeatedly, Just Listen helps the fixers in the room. I’ve found that I less frequently offer an opinion when one isn’t needed of me. Instead I use Mark’s three very powerful words – “TELL ME MORE.” Then I promptly shut up. Mark knows a thing or two about this stuff – he’s a former hostage negotiator trainer.

These three potent words help people calm down and, as Mark says, “identify the specific problems that usually are far short of catastrophic.” This statement tells people you care about what they have to say, what they think and how they feel, especially when you show them you’re genuinely listening by leaning in.

Using “tell me more” has lead to me being thanked. Not because I’ve offered great advice but because I simply listened to the person reason through their situation. Typically, people don’t need us to fix their issues, just be with them. In Chapter 1 of Bob Goff’s whimsical book, Love Does, he says “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” Thanks to these two caring guys, I’m getting closer to living life that way. Do you have something that you like to say to others to help show them how much you care?

Photo by Erik Darmstetter

Filtering Feedbacks and Attacks


Reading through Dr. Mark Goulston’s blog posts, I noticed a piece about independence.  He explains that the successful people he coaches have the follow three attributes in common: self-reliance, resourcefulness and coachability.

Many of us will take on additional responsibility and we’ll look for ways to leverage resources but we miss out on these high levels of success because we miss out on “coachability.”  Mark describes it as a person who can “seek, listen to and act upon solid, relevant input from others.”
The difficulty lies in separating attacks from people that look to tear you down, that quiet little voice inside your head telling you that you’re not good enough to move up to the next level and those people that provide you the encouragement and the feedback you need to take the next step towards greatness.  Oftentimes, trying to block all the feedback feels like a safer route.  We end up with the “I can do it myself, I don’t want to hear it” attitude, then we wonder how we got there.  We become 16 again.  Instead, opt to redouble your efforts and sharpen your filters to allow you to recognize the difference between poisonous comments that lead to toxic thoughts and valuable feedback that helps you grow and become better.  Even people that care about you can provide either of these.  Remain vigilant.

The Center of Attention


You see people connected with others and wonder how they did that.  They don’t seem as if they would be travelling in the same circles or sharing any common interests.  How did they get there? According to University of Minnesota psychologist Mark Snyder, these people are considered “high self-monitoring.”  These people are quick to pick up on social cues and adjust their responses to the situation at hand.  According to Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman who wrote Click: The Magic of Instant Connections,  high self-monitors can use this to their benefits socially and professionally.

In social situations, these people can quickly become the center of attention at a party. According to studies, a high self-monitor will begin shaking their leg more frequently when sitting next to a person shaking their leg, a behavior called mirroring.  Most of us naturally gravitate to others who we perceive as being similar to us.
Ori and Rom also found that these high self-monitors were much more successful at work.  These people were typically became a core part of the team within 18 months on average, where low self-monitors had to endure an incredible 13 years to reach a similar level.  Proximity also matters.  They found that your chances of forming a close bond double when you have an office or desk close to another person.  According to their research, the more frequently you see someone face-to-face, the more you like that person.  Even when you don’t have a conversation with them!
As both Keith Ferrazzi and Mark Goulston have shared, you exposing a level of genuine vulnerability helps people click.  Keith shows the power of this during his keynotes where the audience is encouraged to get up, meet a stranger and share some intimate details of their lives.  Mark speaks of it in his book, Just Listen, where he tells people to “bare your neck.”  These vulnerabilities don’t make you fragile, they make you accessible.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to genuinely click with others, accelerate your career path and relate more easily to others, check out the following books:

‘Best Seller’ Marketing Team Winick & Whitlock To Help Authors Build a Platform

Peter Winick is a friend of mine. I met him a few years back in Vegas when he was working with Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back (amazon affiliate links). Thankfully, he and I have been able to keep in contact. He’s worked with other incredible authors and speakers including my friends Jack Daly, Mark Goulston and Bob Bloom. He and Warren will be putting together a webinar that you need to consider if you’re an author that wants to build a sustainable platform. Below is the information from Warren’s site…

Book Marketing Strategists Warren Whitlock and Peter Winick announce a new value priced webinar series for authors who want to turn their content into self sustaining income streams while keeping cost inline.

“We have used webinars for clients to save on travel costs and get cost saving efficiencies, but I normally work one on one with my clients” said Whitlock. “Peter has done the same with some very large book and information product launches. However, we know there is a need for authors wanting this knowledge so we’ve come up with a program to combine our talents at a fraction of our costs. It’s our author stimulus package”

The Platform Roadmap Coaching Series is the least expensive way to engage the same top talent that millionaire and NY Times best selling authors rely on to focus not only on your book but to enable you to develop a business with multiple income streams such as keynote speaking, training, consulting and such.

The webinar series will be held in June with authors who are accepted into the program. The group will be large enough to lower costs, but much smaller than most online courses. Winick and Whitlock will supplement the webinars with private coaching to insure each other has a success.

Limited seats for new clients are available at

Peter Winick has over twenty years of experience and has worked with a variety of thought leaders. In addition, he has built and managed several consulting and professional development organizations.

Warren Whitlock has been a serial entrepreneur over the past 23 years, focusing on book marketing, authors, publishing and conversation strategies for social media. He is co-author of the first book on Twitter “Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business & Market Online”

When Was the Last Time You Took Time to “Just Listen?”


What do you get when you mix a Huffington Post writer with a psychiatrist, FBI hostage negotiator trainer and an executive coach? Mark Goulston, MD. Mark has made a 30 year career out of dealing with people, ranging from scared children to people in crisis. Fortunately, Mark made time for a call with me to discuss some tips from his new book, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

In all your years of listening to people, what are the top three tips to being a better listener?

“First, realize nobody listens with an open mind, including you. You think you are being open minded, but you’re not. One of my favorite quotes is from Wilfred Bion, who says to listen with an open mind requires that we “listen without memory or desire.” When you listen with memory, you have an old agenda you are trying to plug someone into; when you listen with desire, you have a new agenda that you are trying to plug them into, but in neither case is it their agenda. Second, if you listen with an open mind and drill down deeper, people will open their minds, hearts and wallets, because no one feels listened to. Third, the best way to listen with an open mind is to focus on what’s really important and urgent to the other person, then use all your resources to help them achieve that, even if it it requires The Miracle on 34th Street pitch. It’s important to know that this may or may not get you hired, it may allow you to refer someone else to the person to whom you’re speaking. It causes 3 amazing benefits. 1. You can relax on having to sell people, because there’s no anxiety to maneuver someone  2. It deepens the trust with the person you’re speaking to. I did this once when I drove an hour to see a person.  After listening to him, I told him he could hire me but I suggested he hire another person first to take care of a more pressing need.  It built massive trust. 3. When you make a referral to good people, say another service professional, you’ll realize that referrals are the coin of the realm in the networking world. When you make a referral, they’ll likely refer back to you.”

Mark, that’s excellent advice.  So we should listen with an open mind and really listen to the needs of people and make referrals when they’re appropriate.  What’s the impact of not listening well to a client or a colleague or a boss?

“All you have to do is ask yourself, “What’s the impact on me?,” especially if you have something important to communicate. When you get blown off or they interrupt you or they bring it back to what they need, it frustrates you. If you’re frustrated or worse, what does it do to your motivation to cooperate?”

Keeping the level of frustration down is certainly important when you’re trying to get things done.  How does being a great listener strengthen your ability to lead, manage or sell?

“The first step to being a great listener is to use the “I” word, important. The first thing to say to someone is “What you’re saying to me is too important for me to misunderstand. I’d like to repeat back what you said to me, would that be alright?” After you say that, wait for them to say “yes.” That begins the “cascading yes.”  When people do the “cascading yes” and you become clearer with their thinking, their gratitude increases toward you. If you come from a place of integrity, a true desire to help the other person, as opposed to maneuvering them, this will cause people to beat a path to your door and have them tell other people to do the same. If you disagree with something, it’s best to say “tell me how you came to that?” Before you come to a conclusion about the other person, get evidence by asking more about what they’re saying. Use conversation deepeners such as “tell me more” or “hmmm.” Use the right tone for “hmmm” like you’re saying “yum yum, what you’re saying is so good I can’t wait to hear more.

Mark, how can becoming a better listener be a competitive advantage in general?

“If you are in the position of not being listened to and it makes you angry, when someone really listens to you and helps you become clearer in your thinking, you’ll standout in their mind.”

Mark, can you give me an example of how being a better listener can benefit someone’s personal life?

“One of the key motivators for me to write this book and realize how important listening is, occurred when my now 27 year old daughter was 8 years old. She now had to share mommy with our third child. She was having trouble doing that and was throwing tantrums and requiring timeouts. I came home one day when I had to “handle” my daughter. She was having a primal deprivation. She wanted mommy and “hated” her life. Instead of sending her to her room for a time out, I asked “What is it Lauren?” in an inviting but firm way. When it was clear that I wasn’t going to punish her or go away, she responded “I was the first to be born, I will be the first to die.” My oldest daughter is the only first born in the house. We had been punishing her for being terrified. At that point, she ran and jump into my arms and said “daddy, keep talking.” At that point, we both cried. I could feel that helping her to not feel alone and not be punished could have prevented a disaster later. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to be a good listener. If you believe that most people are decent people and when they act up, it may be something is going on inside, not that they’re bad people. Persevere with them when asking questions, “That’s not it. What’s really going on?” They’ll finally crack and say something like “I’m scared because we don’t communicate and I don’t want a divorce.” This enables people to exhale. Venting is where the other person is running you over and it feels exhausting. You feel like getting defensive and neither of you are calm, you’re both exhausted. If you don’t take the venting personally, when people go from venting to exhaling, they go from showing their teeth to showing their neck. In trusting you with your bared neck, you will typically do the same and bare your neck, too.”

Can you tell me the one thing that I should start doing today to become a better listener?

“Think of everyone that you’re trying to get through to today, personally and professionally. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, as them, how well they feel listened to and cared about by you? Be honest with yourself. If, when you do this, your answer is that they don’t [feel listened to], then ask yourself how motivated you would be to want to extend the conversation. The likelihood is, not very motivated. Now that you know this, you can say to these people “I’ve been thinking about our relationship or business together and I realize that there’s a good chance that I don’t really get where you’re coming from. I’d really like to know that. If you’re willing, please tell me what’s important to you and what you accomplish from our dealings with each other.

As I wrapped up my call with Mark, he provided me one more piece of information that can earn you more money, become better respected and develop peace in your life and the lives of those with whom you come into contact.  You’ll have to come back soon to find out that secret.

Follow Mark on twitter at @markgoulston

Crowdsourced Questions for Mark Goulston, M.D.

Mark Goulston, M.D. is a psychiatrist, business consultant, and FBI hostage-negotiation trainer. He His expertise has been tapped for in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, BBC News, Oprah, and The Today Show. He recently wrote Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. Since I’ll be interviewing Mark soon, I’d like get some questions answered for you.

Do you have a person professionally or personally that you’re having trouble getting through to? Do you struggle in times of conflict or crisis? Submit your question in the form, use a fake name if you’d like, and I’ll ask Mark. Then, stay tuned for the answers in the next few weeks!

You can follow Mark on Twitter at @markgoulston