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

Author: Nan Palmero, MBA

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