Time Stamps for Listening Part 1: Wide Receivers, Cage Fighting and Relationships
1:37— The Power Of Listening
5:38— How Listening Is Like Cage Fighting
8:55— Listening Starts With Rapport
10:15— How Listening Magic Happens
13:45— I Wouldn’t Trust THAT Evaluation!
16:15— Creating An Environment Of Safety
Do You Want To Read or Listen To Part 1, 2, 3, or 4?
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William: Welcome back to the show. William Wood here I am here with the amazing Christian Vesterfelt. The powerful, the long haired hippie.
Christian: That is the message I have been getting lately.
William: Is it? Well you do look like a long haired hippie man. I am looking at Christian right now and he is looking– dude you’re looking pretty smooth. I just want to say. Your hair is longer than I am seeing in a little bit. So who is on you man? Who is riding you on the whole hair thing?
Christian: Oh, everybody.
William: He has got like– you should see it. He’s got his hair is long and he has got about 4 days growth of beard, his shirt is unbuttoned like 3 buttons. You are looking hot man.
Christian: This is really interesting because today we are going to be having a conversation on the power of listening and listening goes way beyond just the auditory vibrations right?
William: Right, yes it does. Well listening is one of the most important parts of communication. I am going to make a bold claim. I am going to say that by the end of today’s show you will not only have tools but you are going to have ideas that can literally transform every major relationship you have. If you think about it, in High school we started learning about how to make presentations in front of a class, we learnt how to write and read critically, but no one ever teaches us how to listen. That would be like sending a football team out on the playing field and you have only trained the quarter back, you have never trained anybody how to do anything else on the field, nobody is going to block the defense, the receiver doesn’t know where to run to most effectively catch the ball, and he has never actually caught a football, and then they are trying to play against these 300 pound giants. It is a game that is doomed to failure. And so most of us go out entire lives without any good training in communications. Why study listening? Because in my opinion listening is the key to rapidly improving the quality and caliber of your communication and also in really deeply connecting with people. It looks like some of you want to say, let me wrap with this thought here that a few years back and I think this was actually back in the mid nineties when they first started doing these studies. They started basically doing the cage fighting equivalent of or the psychotherapy equivalent of cage fighting. So if you think back to the early of mixed Martial arts you can tell us two guys running the show and not two women. Like if we have been talking about shoes or something like that if we were women. But I just have no idea what to talk about with shoes. So in the early days of mixed martial arts, I am a martial artist and Christian is a martial artist for years since I was 10 or something like that, I first started off in Taekwondo and then I worked my way into karate then I realized the karate people could kick my trash…
Christian: I thought you would say break bricks with your head or something like that.
William: Dude. I broke bricks with my hand. I broke with my right hand 3.5 inches of concrete and I have broken bricks and I also did not break six inches of concrete and just about broke every bone in my arm. That was one of the most painful things I have ever done. It is actually not that bad if you go through it, but man if you don’t go through it, ooh.. if you hit it wrong that hurts.
Christian: I am sitting on the edge of my seat Will and I enjoy martial arts, I am really perplexed by the connection of the early next martial arts of psychotherapy.
William: My disclaimer is I am not a psychotherapist I am a coach but as a coach I am always interested in good change technology so I read a lot of literature and I look at a lot of different change modalities that are out there to find effective modalities to help my clients change. Christian on the other hand is a psychotherapist and right now I know that he just got back from a conference so he is imagining maybe two of the nation’s top professors you know standing in a ring you know shirts off, spandex stuff. It was back in the nineties they started to do studies on and they were kind of like a cage fights for psychotherapists. If you go back to the early days of martial artists I was a taekwondo guy, and when I was a taekwondo guy, we would say “Taekwondo is so much better than karate.” Well how do you know? “Well you know because we have these fancy kicks or whatever. I am not criticising anyone. But did anybody really know what art was better? Not really. Because nobody was out putting it to the test. So then along comes the advent of the cage fights. In cage fights they said well we can have some loose rules, make sure nobody is going to die or anything like that, but let’s put two people in a ring and what happens when you put a boxer against a karate guy? What happens when you put a wrestler against you know a judo guy, what happens when you do this? And it turned out that in the early days certain styles did seem to have more success in the ring than others. But over time what we’ve found is that really it was probably for most fighters it was a matter of taking the best from several styles and then learning how to mix them together in an effective style. In the early days the grapplers had a real advantage because if the striker didn’t know how to manage on the ground you know the wrestler would go on and plop him on the back and then they didn’t know how to fight. Right? and they lost all their advantage. So they kind of did the same thing in the psychotherapy world. What did they did is they did all these studies to see if they couldn’t ease-out which style of psychotherapy was most effective. They did this by looking at a number of things and interestingly enough they found that there really wasn’t one style of psychotherapy that outperformed another. That’s interesting, isn’t it? They did find there were some therapists that were more effective than other therapists. And the number one predictor of outcomes in these studies was whether or not there was an excellent level of rapport between therapist and the client. And the level of rapport was the number one predictor for successful a outcome. So if you think about that you might be listening and just thinking, “Well I am not a therapist.” I am not a therapist either. I am a coach, but I am also a dad and I am also a husband and I am also a friend and I am also someone who attends community events, sometimes attends networking events, and I lead people in groups and I lead people individually and my influence really stands at this point over thousands of people. The way that I look at the data is that my number one ability to influence which is really what a psychotherapist is doing starts with rapport. And the fastest way to gain rapport in my opinion begins with listening. And so now we are back to, we have left cage fights and we are back to today’s topic. If you find that you are struggling with making a connection with people it may not be what you are saying. It may be the way that you are receiving or the way that you are listening. And interestingly enough, I was just with a guy who trains a lot of sales people and he trains sales people how to sell in a really ethical way. Some people have a very funny idea about what sales people do, but he really has a good training curriculum for sales people. And he trains people how to sell in a high ethic sort of way and he said if I find a sales guy who is not performing I look at a couple of things. I look if he is out working and things like that but if he is out working and he is not making sales and he is actually doing the work of meeting people and everybody is telling him a no and he seems to be talking to the right kinds of people, people who might be interested in his products and services, he said the number one thing I look at is their listening skills. And he has almost always they have terrible listening skills. So listening skills will not only help you in the therapy or a mentoring or a coaching context, it will help you in a business context, it will help you in a life partnership whether that is a marriage or a girlfriend, boy friend, think about it. What is the number one cause of divorce today?
Christian: Oh. It’s breakdown in communication.
William: Yeah. Breakdown in communication. Now that breakdown in communication could be over money, could be over intimacy, could be over resources, or child rearing and what does that really boil down to?
William: Listening. Listening, being willing to both give and receive. So in school we are constantly trained on how to give, we are constantly trained in how to put messages out into the world in very few of us have ever spent any time at all learning how to listen. And so the timing of the show I think is just absolutely critical for all of us and myself included because all of us can take our listening skills to the next level.
Christian: Well you know how I look at listening is that magic happens when listening. And going back to your point that you were making earlier, you are exactly right. I have spent years and years and years in the educational system. I started 4 years old and then went all the way till I was 19, then I took a couple of years off and then I started my undergraduate and my masters degree and really up until a couple of years ago I was in a PhD Program. And it is really interesting because all throughout that educational process, they teach on the mechanics and the style of speaking but it is automatically assumed you know how to listen. Well, In order for you to really speak the right message, you have to know first how to listen, to hear, because if you are not hearing the needs and desires of your audience, or your customers, then it doesn’t matter what you say. Because it is really just like a crap show, you might be saying the right thing but you are probably not. Just like what you were referring to highly successful business sales person knowing when the individuals ability to effectively listen. Like I said that is listening is where the magic happens. I cannot tell you how many different clients that I have worked with. I am meeting with them for a solid 15 minutes in those 15 minutes I may have said 60 seconds, 120 seconds worth of anything. And so it is a real practice and so I am going to take a quick tangent here, listening is a skill and you can strengthen that skill through practice and you need to have effective tools. So that you can practice listening. But at the end of the session, I mean I have had hundreds of individuals tell me this, saying “Christian, that was an amazing session. This was the most effective session I have ever had.” I am like wow really I am wondering why is that? And they were like, “Because I finally feel like I was heard. I was finally listened to.” It is really nice because I just sit there and go “mm-hmm.” Tell me a bit more about that. right? And you are like you smoke a pipe and do that you know? I have them close their eyes and then I have a little dry-erase marker and I draw things on my window.
William: But seriously. You gave a really interesting metaphor offline right before we got on. You were talking about a mechanic and what you shared was and I thought this really impacted me, if I brought my car into a mechanic and without looking at it and without hearing it, the mechanic is like “Oh dude. you need a new engine.” and you are like what? you know. Are you sure? “Oh yes. everybody that drives a suburban needs a new engine.” Everybody, really? How do you know? “It is a common thing, I know these things.”
Christian: But I just drove this off the parking lot.
William:Right. I just drove it off lot and I was hoping you like, put air on my tire. If the mechanic didn’t take time to diagnose the situation you wouldn’t trust the evaluation. And how many of us with our kids try to be a mechanic and fix things before we even really know what is really at the tender core of their hearts and their minds. How many of us with our partners lunge into fixing things before we take time to really just fully hear the other person out. We are the mechanic that is trying to replace the engine before making a diagnosis. So you have got to take that time and I thank you for sharing that, that was a beautiful metaphor that you shared. So let us talk about what listening is here for a minute. Listening in my opinion really resonates deeply with a couple of words. Listening has to do with I think being fully present. Listening has to do with receiving. Listening has to do with connecting and listening also has to do with creating safety. So if you were to ask me you know what is listening, I would say listening is the process of becoming totally present, becoming totally aware of receiving the gift that someone is giving you, and creating an environment of safety so that if somebody really has something to say they can say it. I do not know about you. But have you ever been in a situation where you are having a conversation with someone and you really needed to say something but you didn’t feel like you could?
Christian: Oh yes and unfortunately, yes.
William: So have I. I have been in those situations in a variety of different places. I suspect that I have also created that from time to time as I have navigated my relationships. So right now I have three teenagers. My daughter’s birthday is today, the recordings are always delayed a little bit from when we release them, but today is my daughters birthday and she just turned 14 and so I have three teenagers right now, I have a 14 years old, 15 year old and a 17 year old. So with these three teens one of the things that I am constantly evaluating now is am I creating an environment of safety where they really of they had something will they need to come and talk and in their teenage years, can be years where they might have something real to talk about, life changing type stuff. Have I created an environment of safety with each of my kids and if I am real about honest about even thinking about it right now, I would say with two of my kids it is yes and with one of them it is no right now. So all of us can I think now take the time to really evaluate how good are we doing? This is not an on or off, this is not the environment is totally safe or it is totally unsafe, I do not think I am in an environment in the house, but if I was to scale between a zero and a hundred, zero being safety and a hundred being totally safety, where is each of those relationships? I’d put one in an 80, and one at about a 60, and one in about a 30 right now. So I look at the one that is in a 30 and I go well, what can I really do and one of the things I need to do I think is I really need to create some more time with that individual and while I am with that individual to also spend more time really in the– You know? Am I fully present? am I fully connected? am I in the receiving mode? so I can hear it. Am I totally and completely accepting of the individual regardless of what kind of content may be coming forth, I hope there is nothing major going on. But I look at that as I am evaluating and I am like “Gosh” right now if there was something big to talk about, would the relationship be able to handle it easily, or would it end up being a strained awkward thing? Because safety isn’t there.