Listening with Raquel Ark Luke Szyrmer
Born and raised in Puerto Rico and Ohio, USA and now living in Germany, Raquel has over 25 years’ experience managing, coaching, facilitating, and training communication and leadership for tech, chemical industries, NGOs and academia. As founder of listening ALCHEMY, Raquel is very curious about the conditions and capacities to hold a listening space that connects and inspires so that communication has more impact. She has been researching and experimenting with listening beyond traditional training and has learned from and collaborated with listening scientists and professionals.
She is the podcast host for, “Listen In with Raquel Ark” focused on listening in teams and organizations beyond what we typically consider. Raquel spoke on the TEDx stage about “Growing Your Listening Superpower”.
[00:00:00] If I listened to you and you’re on my team and I’m your boss, you’re more likely to go beyond your roles and responsibilities. Your poor performance will go up if I listen to you and you’re more likely to trust, and you’re more likely to be engaged in your job and stick around.
[00:00:20] Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to the managing remote teams podcast. Today, we are speaking with Raquel Ark, who is a TEDx speaker, a communications expert, in particular in listening. And this is , of course an absolutely fascinating skill that all of us have some experience in, but there’s always some potential room for improvement, at least certainly my case. before we get into listening itself, could you say a few words about. Puerto Rico and how that’s tied to your interest in listening.
[00:01:29] Sure. So it’s really great to be with you here, Luke. And I’m looking forward to our conversation.
[00:01:37] Puerto Rico. So I was born in Puerto Rico. And grew up there until I was around nine years old. And then I my parents got divorced. So then I spent my summers in Puerto Rico and vacation in Puerto Rico. It’s a great place to take a vacation. And then I spent I was in school in Ohio. And the reason why I tell you that is because yes, Puerto Rico had a huge influence.
[00:01:57] And I’ll tell you about that in a moment, but also growing up between two cultures throughout my life, that also made a huge difference. And I think you’ve experienced the same thing, with growing up and under seeing that people see the world in different ways.
[00:02:10] Puerto Rico it’s a beautiful island.
[00:02:12] If you ever have a chance to go, it’s close to the equator. The weather’s about the same all year long, except for rainy season and dry season. We used to go to the beach almost every day. So every day we’d go to the beach. And so the beach was my place to to play. To have fun to be with family and whatnot.
[00:02:36] And I didn’t realize the full impact that playing in the waves had with me until later and how that was connected to listening. And what I realized later is being with waves and listening to waves, especially when we would go camping on the beach and falling asleep to the waves and then waking up with the waves that that was a time where I was really present.
[00:02:58] There’s nothing else existed. It was just the waves. And that impacted a lot on how I perceive being present, which is really important.
[00:03:11] I lived on the the west side of the island where the beaches are calmer.
[00:03:14] So we didn’t have as many waves. And yet if you go up about half hour, 40 minutes north, that’s where the surfers are and that’s where the bigger waves are. And we used to go there and body surf and We would also go camping on an island called Mona island. It’s one of the islands of Puerto Rico. And there, when we would go camping, we would have to go snorkeling for our food because we couldn’t carry everything with us.
[00:03:42] And so my dad would do spear. We use a spear fish, spear, what do you call this? Use a spear to get the fish anyway. So I would go with him and I, there was this one time where we we would have to, we would get to a reef. It was like a bridge and we’d have to swim under this little bridge of a reef to get to the other side where the water was deeper.
[00:04:05] And that’s where we could get the bigger fish. And so we had gone fishing and as we came back, here’s the thing with the ocean, the current changed. And all of a sudden we were trying to get under the reef, but instead the current, the waves lifted us up and slammed us on top of the reef and reefs are very sharp.
[00:04:22] And my dad he’s a doctor tried to save everyone. He tried saving me, but while he was doing that, he actually slammed on top of me. So we kept, we couldn’t get out. We kept slamming against that reef over and over. And eventually though we got over, so we just got a little bit cut up, but it was a really scary experience.
[00:04:42] And what I remember back at that time, I was around nine years old is during that situation, my dad was freaking out, but I was really calm. Like I had no fear at all. I knew that we would get over. And as a child, you’re like, what is my, what? Just leave me alone. We’re going to get over.
[00:05:00] And so it was, if you can just imagine it’s like this, like rhythm of this waves kept going, coming back and forth, but eventually it moved us over and I knew it would. And then we were, I knew it would be okay. So bringing that back to listening, there are the waves that are calm that can put you to sleep or wake you up to play in.
[00:05:19] But there’s also those ones that crash, and that’s like conversations where things just seem to be crashing over and the importance of staying calm and knowing that we’ll get through to the other side, if we can stay as calm as possible.
[00:05:31] So just so we’re clear on exactly what you mean. Can you give an example of great listening?
[00:05:37] One of my one of the best bosses I had, even in our group team meetings, she would always have everybody talk first, so she’d have her little notebook with all the topics she wanted to talk about and you’d see her like scratching things off as we went through.
[00:05:50] And then sometimes it went, it would get to her. Then sometimes you’d have something left on the list and then talk about it. Or then she would just share stories if everything was taken care of. And she always had us talk first or even a one on one. She always had me talk first and I noticed this. So I would always try to, get her to talk first and it never worked.
[00:06:08] And I actually interviewed her on a podcast. Like she’s so good, but I realized now, like in group meetings if you have a, if whoever’s of highest, the hierarchy is the highest higher hierarchy. If they speak first, it will shut down voices for the rest of the group. So you cannot speak first if you, and then they complain that everybody’s not speaking out and they want to hear their voices, but if they talk first, then people aren’t going to talk, so you really have to hold back.
[00:06:35] Yeah. Yeah. It’s so the. The challenge that I had. I think initially when I first started leading teams is that I wasn’t setting enough context at the beginning of the meeting. So I think there is a need to do that. But after that yeah.
[00:06:53] But that’s describing the situation.
[00:06:54] That’s not asking for opinions or giving your opinions and your advice necessarily this getting, having that clarity.
[00:07:00] And then, can you say a few words about what the impact of listening is based on your experience or your research?
[00:07:08] I do some workshops. We did empirical research on these teams over a period of time.
[00:07:15] To see what the impact was of the listening training I was doing that I’ve been doing. We’re just coming up with the results right now. This is in tech. They’re not teams, so they’re in the same company. We measured them and then we measured them two or three weeks later. Over time.
[00:07:30] they perceive themselves as better listeners there. What was interesting is they didn’t necessarily feel like their team listened to them better, but it wasn’t a team training. So that kind of makes sense. But what they did feel like they had more voice. . They felt like they had more voice and they felt more belonging in the organization.
[00:07:49] I think this is my little theory on things. I think that through listening, you understand what other people’s interests are, what their needs are, how to connect with them and you build relationships. And therefore then when you do speak to them, then you’re more likely to speak in a way that connects versus just what I thought I had to say, or I feel more confident because I paid attention to what’s important. And I know what to say that connects and matters. And I think that’s where that voice comes in. And then from there they get positive feedback because it connected and it helped. And that’s the belonging.
[00:08:27] One guy, I was just thinking about one example, we met a month later and reflected back on what they’d been practicing and what they’d learned. And he said that he used to always figure out when to say something. he knew what he wanted to say before the meeting and tried to get it in. And now he goes to meetings and he sits back and listens and then he makes connections for people or then says something that matters. And he feels like he’s contributing more and it’s much more relaxing. He feels much better and it’s connecting more and he’s getting positive feedback.
[00:08:56] So I think that’s what’s happening.
[00:08:59] So you’ve moved a few major times, complete changes in cultures. Is there a difference to how people listen in different cultures?
[00:09:10] That’s a good question. Now, what I’m telling you is based on my personal experience so I don’t have the research on this, but there is a lot of research that talks about how cultures do listen differently, who use silence differently, or cultures that talk on top of each other.
[00:09:25] There’s a lot of research in the intercultural world, but what I have noticed in the German language. So I live in Germany now, which is even a different culture in the German language. The verbs don’t come until the end of the sentence compared to the English language. And I wonder, I find that in general, Germans tend to be better listeners.
[00:09:48] And I wonder sometimes if that’s because the verb comes at the end, ’cause you don’t really know what’s going to happen until the end of the sentence. Yeah. Where in English, we tend to hear the verb and then we guess what’s going to happen afterwards that we jump in. I wonder if that doesn’t influence.
[00:10:06] That’s interesting. Why is it that people find listening hard? Usually? Or my assuming that people do find it hard and people find it very easy.
[00:10:19] Before I answer that, maybe I’ll ask you, what do you find hard about listening?
[00:10:25] I think there’s a lot of potential for me personally, to be in my own head and not enough with the other person., maybe that’s just, my own thing sometimes it’s not an issue at all, but when I am struggling, it’s usually for that reason where I’m time shifting ahead thinking about what’s about to happen. Something along those lines that would probably be my most common difficulty with
[00:10:47] You’re not the only one where that I would hope.
[00:10:52] I hear that so often and I experienced it myself that often, we’re thinking about what we want to say, and there’s this famous quote, we listened to respond for them to understand. And that’s because often we’re thinking about where we have distractions, internal distractions, and part of the reason for that.
[00:11:10] Our brains think a lot more. About a thousand to 3000 words a minute. And people are only speaking, about 175 to 200 words a minute. And our mind, there’s a lot more going on our mind that what we’re saying or what the other person is saying. So that doesn’t, it’s not really an alignment, but that’s one major reason.
[00:11:29] I also had a software engineer once tell me, after he’d been through this listening workshop, he said, you know what? He goes, I don’t even think it’s I listened to respond. I think I’m listening to judge to evaluate. And I thought that was interesting. I like that. That’s really insightful. So we listening to respond.
[00:11:47] Are we listening to evaluate how are we listening? And To go back to why is it hard? Often we think, especially in our work, of how we bring value to figure out, what is it that I bring to the table? And what we don’t realize is that, especially for leaders and managers, that when we listen to someone and we’re really present, so we’ve, we try to clear our mind as possible.
[00:12:14] You will have thoughts, just notice when you wander and bring yourself back and then try to be fully present. But when we are without judging, And that you’re really trying to understand the other person’s perspective. The person who’s speaking will actually be able to get more creative, will be able to come up with the ideas themselves.
[00:12:37] You’re actually helping them to think smarter so that they can take responsibility for the work that they’re doing. So often we want to jump into help, but if you give them that space in time, then you’re helping to develop other leaders or other, so something to think about. And then that gives you more time as a leader.
[00:12:55] It also feels to me like there’s an element of of thinking versus feeling I think with listening. I for me personally, I’m again, I, again, I don’t know the research particularly well but that it, if I’m thinking too much, it’s too much about. This kind of, I guess the rational brain says is fast or something.
[00:13:17] Whereas if I’m trying to connect with the other person and also empathize or sympathize as I’m listening to them, then that makes it easier a little bit. But I don’t know if there’s anything that you’ve heard of like that before.
[00:13:34] Right now you’re talking about what’s your purpose there, right?
[00:13:37] Are you wanting to connect with the person so that you can develop trust and work well together? Are you just trying to get some data so you can take with it and do your thing, what are you trying to do? And that’s I think there’s what most of us think that we can listen better than we do. So the fact that you actually saying, oh, I don’t know if I do that. Or I have these times that’s much more, you’re much more self-reflective than often is the case. Okay. So often we think we’re better than what we are, but none of us do a good job with everybody. There’s certain people that we listen well to in certain conditions, in certain ways, we tend to have patterns on how we listen and who we listened to. And so part of the practice is to start to become aware of this and then to challenge ourselves, to listen in more ways to more people under different circumstances, especially when things get tough. Which is when it gets hard.
[00:14:35] And often when things get hard we will, our bodies triggered into that reactive fight or flight, and this is where your, the emotional part also can shut off. And we’re in our own world. And we have our own biases and we have our own assumptions and that gets in the way. And we will only hear what we think, and we won’t really hear everything else.
[00:14:57] We won’t even hear everything that’s in our own minds, and so when that’s the case if you are able to stay calm and to be the one to listen and ask questions, you will help the other person to calm down. Because that listening is the way to get to psychological safety. And you can tell when that person starts to feel better, because all of a sudden they’ll have another perspective.
[00:15:22] They’re trying to persuade. You try to convince you. And then all of a sudden something will shift. And instead of persuading you they’ll start expressing themselves. And it’s almost like they’re thinking about thinking through things themselves. And at that point they’ll actually recognize that there’s different, there’s more than one way to look at things. And you’ll start to notice that in their language that there are different perspectives. Instead of saying that my boss is horrible, but oh, in this situation, he’s like this, but this situation he’s like this. So they’ll start to see different perspectives.
[00:15:53] And they’re more likely to listen to your perspective afterwards because the parent, because the parasympathetic system has kicked in and then that helps also with the emotional triggers that have just occurred.
[00:16:07] Yeah, I’ve really interesting. It reminds me of book a book. I was reading recently how to talk to science deniers.
[00:16:13] And yeah, no it’s quite I guess that’s almost the most extreme case, or at least for someone like me. I, I guess people have different views on this stuff, but but in terms of, for example, Flat Earthers or something, or I’m, I don’t even want to go near political topics but yeah it’s it’s yeah, it feels like there’s just so much conflict between people and cause they’re unwilling or unable to listen and then it sets, what to do in those situations, is it just trying to listen to yourself and seeing what happens or and in these kinds of heated discussions, for example, that people get into online or offline.
[00:16:58] So you’re asking a really big question, right? Sorry. So you asked how you’re asking if there’s a conversation that comes up, what’s the best way to respond, right?
[00:17:09] Yeah. If it gets heated and yeah, the let’s say the other side is, has a very different view than you do, for example.
[00:17:19] Yeah. I really believe that often if you want them to listen to you, you have to be the role model for us to give them an experience they may not have had from somebody else before. So it may, so if you really want someone to be open to other perspectives, then, the best way to do it is to start by listening and not listening with an agenda, being willing for you to change your own mind.
[00:17:46] And then if you do it in that way and think of a more long-term process not just a one-off thing, then the chances that they might come around is higher. Because when you do that, then they may start to listen to themselves. You create a space where they can hear themselves. Let me give you an example.
[00:18:07] There was some research done with managers and they put a good listener or someone who listened well with one group and then a listener who was distracted with another group of managers, with the group where the listener was distracted, those managers perceived themselves, they only saw the strengths that they had, the only, the good things about them.
[00:18:30] The one with the good listeners actually become, became much more aware of their strengths and their weaknesses, which is a more realistic perspective of their performance. And so they’re showing that listing helps more complex thought patterns. That’s more complex thoughts, so they can see that there is both strengths and the weaknesses.
[00:18:51] There’s the times where it works, where it doesn’t work, which is more realistic. So if you have someone who’s very extreme in their thoughts, then practicing, listening. So you might have to find your way to stay calm and to really move your agenda aside, and move your opinions aside and to ask questions and be truly interested, like you really are interested.
[00:19:13] Then the chances of that person becoming less extreme is much higher. And they’ve done research with really tough topics, on. Do you bring the body of a terrorist back home so they can be buried with their family, like really tough conversations like this.
[00:19:29] They did that in Israel and and it showed that even in those types of conversations with a good listener, people will become less extreme and more open to conversations with others, but it takes, that’s a huge muscle to practice. And so I think it’s really important to practice and in situations that are not as extreme first.
[00:19:49] But that when that moment happens, you can take a deep breath and no matter if you want that person to listen to you, you start by giving them an experience they may not have had by anybody else.
[00:20:03] Yeah. No that’s great. Yeah. No, thank you. Since you got interested in the topic, what was the biggest surprise in the research that you found on listening specific.
[00:20:13] In the beginning I had done a lot of listening. I had been, I studied interpersonal organizational communication, so listening was part of my program. But it was more active listening. You listen to someone and then you paraphrase back. But I realize now that’s just one tiny piece and that actually can sometimes get in the way of real, the real stuff that has impact what I didn’t realize.
[00:20:33] A lot of times, I listen so I can do my job better or to listen to the customer or to listen to what the needs are. What I did not realize is that just by listening, that it helped the speaker. I did not realize that just by listening, the speaker can become more creative, that the speaker actually will perform better.
[00:20:56] If I listened to you and you’re on my team and I’m your boss, you’re more likely to go beyond your roles and responsibilities. Your poor performance will go up if I listen to you and you’re more likely to trust, and you’re more likely to be engaged in your job and stick around. I didn’t realize that part.
[00:21:15] It takes practice and we can learn. It’s not something that just happens. I thought I was pretty good. And so I was just trying to help others. And through the, this, through these years, I’ve realized, oh my gosh, I can’t, I need practice every day.
[00:21:29] And I can learn a lot from others too. And no matter, I think it’s a lifelong. And and that the training, you can’t just talk about the benefit of listening. So for all of you listening, you can listen to this and think I’m going to get better, but actually it takes experiencing and practicing to get better.
[00:21:46] And then yeah, having time to talk about it and think about afterwards.
[00:21:50] So what exactly do you mean by practice then?
[00:21:53] And then what do I mean by practice? So even if you find somebody and you let you just say, Hey, I’m going to listen to you , I want to hear what you have to say, or someone comes to you, they ask you for an answer, how do I fix this problem before you answer to say, Hey I have some thoughts, but I’d love to hear what you’re thinking first and talk me through what you’re doing.
[00:22:16] And I’d like to hear your ideas first. I’m going to give you a five minutes and then if you want to hear what I have to say, I’ll be happy to share, but let’s start with you first and to practice listening. You might be surprised at what might happen. To practice not interrupting, so you can practice on your own like this.
[00:22:33] But like in training programs, like when I do training programs, I don’t talk a whole lot. I give a little bit of input, but often I have people experience listening in really playful ways or in different ways. And then having time to reflect back afterwards, what just happened often. They’ll actually, people will actually respond in ways that the science is showing and then I can tell them the science afterwards and that anchors it.
[00:22:58] So for example just having two minutes, not interrupting, just only listening without not saying anything and then taking turns or practicing. If you tell a story, people can listen to you better. And to practice that. Where all the focus on a person for five minutes and only that person has that the attention before you switch to the other person.
[00:23:24] We practice things like that. Those are just simple examples.
[00:23:29] Yeah. Yeah. That, that makes sense. What about dialogue? Is there a way of practicing structuring dialogue, or are there good ways of doing that? Cause I think for storytelling, it’s, it’s a great skill. It’s both to tell. And then as, as pretty much as we’re saying also listening to it but if you want to be entering into a topic and exploring it, how would, how do you practice that or think about structuring the practicing.
[00:24:01] So here’s my question. Before I answer that.
[00:24:03] When you think of wanting a dialogue, like what is the outcome you’d like to have in a dialogue? Are you thinking in terms of a group or are you thinking about one-on-one? Let’s say one-on-one just to keep it simple, because I think with a group, it pretty gathered. There’s a lot, there’s a lot of other factors at play too, even though there’s some really simple stuff you can do with groups, just so you know.
[00:24:22] Okay. Let’s okay. Let’s start with one-on-one and then move to groups.
And are you talking in general, are you talking more like leader, team lead with their.
Let’s say team lead. Yeah. With a one-on-one situation team lead with a person on the team, for example, in a meeting on a call, that kind of thing.
[00:24:44] So first of all, I think if you can do some prep work before that is really helpful, you don’t have to. I’ve talked to a lot of people in one on ones and they just show up without preparing. And I find that, especially in the tech industry, if you have people who need time to think that it’s helpful to have at least an agenda or a couple of topics or something ahead of time that people prepare and you can even prepare an agenda, a little one short one in terms of questions, because if you do it in terms of questions people are more likely to think about the answers versus coming for the answers.
[00:25:24] Because it’s just getting information. So that’s one thing
[00:25:28] also. If they do bring their topics to you to find answers have them start thinking about, do I want to share some information and update you? Do I need information from you? Do I want to brainstorm ideas or do I need a decision made? I think you don’t always have to do that, but to start helping your team think about what’s the purpose of this communication topic?
[00:25:51] How do I want you to listen to me? Do I want to listen to you? Do we want to listen to each other? What is our purpose that can be really helpful because often people don’t think about that. But in the moment as a lead, it’s really helpful. If you can ask them questions, listen first, before you give your ideas and answers, because I find that the higher you are in the power hierarchy, if you speak first, the chances that the other people won’t speak, or they’ll just say what they think you want them to say will be the case. So to get them used to talking first and listening first asking questions that help them think further. So it’s more than you getting information, but it’s more like trying to understand how they’re thinking through something and their process, and to give that space in time.
[00:26:42] And when they’re silent and come to a pause to wait, don’t jump in because it could be that they’re thinking about what they just said and trying to reflect on whether there’s more to say, often we jump in and we interrupt and they’re still in their thinking process. So not to do that. So wait and see if they’re really finished and ask, is there anything else before jumping in and usually when you ask, wait. Usually that’s when the good stuff comes. So that’s something I would really recommend practicing, and then you can respond. It’s not that you can’t but then when you respond, you’re responding in a way that’s connecting more to where they’re at. Often we jump in thinking we know where they’re at, but we’re actually responding in a way that’s not very helpful.
[00:27:34] And it might be, they take care of their own challenge before or their own issue before you even say anything. They’ve taken ownership of it. So that’s something to listen first, ask questions, even in feedback, getting their thoughts first, before responding.
[00:27:49] And it could be, they say everything you wanted to say, or then you add an example or you can add from that and help them to think about other things that could be really helpful. If there’s a crisis, then you got to just take care of things. But if there’s not a crisis and you have a little bit of time, what usually surprises people is that because the quality of listing is there, then the conversations actually are more effective and don’t take as long.
[00:28:13] Over time they become shorter because you just understand each other better. Yeah. And the, and they start to get, they start to build trust and they start to be able to be more vulnerable or ask for help and things that may not have done otherwise
[00:28:31] so what about groups then?
[00:28:32] Yeah, with groups what do you find is the biggest challenge in groups?
[00:28:38] Usually group dynamics. Especially when starting with a group I think there’s a pretty big disconnect between how I relate to each person versus how the group acts. And then if something as simple as sitting there waiting, with, for example, video off, as someone talks for five minutes and then not really wanting to break out of that comfort zone where they aren’t, where they’re not involved for example, and that, and I think there’s a group dynamic component to that.
[00:29:13] Whereas I’m certain each of the people individually actually. Are engaged are interested that’s one part of it. You see it in workshops too, right? That’s, what’s what like icebreakers are for just to get people into that forward momentum.
[00:29:28] That can help if it’s the right type of activity for that group of people at that moment. At least from what I’ve seen
[00:29:37] I know that we had a conversation about how you manage meetings and workshop style and having different ways of interacting and trying to adapt to the group.
[00:29:44] In general, you do a lot already. When it comes to groups, I’m going to tap into the research, the listening research. The biggest impact on whether listening can happen. Quality listening happens has mainly to do with the they call in dyads. So the pairs. So when you put people in twos that has the biggest influence on listening. It’s not whether people are “good listeners” or the context. The biggest influencer is the person that they’re with on whether the listening happens or not. So when you think, even in groups, the more you can facilitate this, what you talked about, being a facilitator first. Maybe facilitate where people meet in two’s first. You can put people into breakout rooms where they can think through a question between two people before bringing it into the larger group. Then they’re more likely to speak out.[00:30:41] That’s one thing. So to remember that in dyads, they’re more likely to have a voice and to think through things. If they’re in pairs before coming into a bigger group, the bigger the group is the less likely people are going to speak out. So if you can facilitate ways that you can still get answers or help people to think through things before coming to a bigger group than they’re more likely to say something because they have had time to talk to somebody else about it.
[00:31:04] So this is important then when it comes to the group I find that if you have a group that meets on a regular basis to have some communication guidelines on how we want to listen to each other. To even talk about that it makes a huge influence. So if you have a team guideline and then to check in to see if it’s working or not what people want because there’s different styles, some people more process people, they need an agenda. Other people need to have a little bit of interpersonal friendly talk at the beginning. So you start to talk about that. What do people need? And then how can we create an environment that everybody’s needs are fulfilled? So if you can do that, it’s really valuable.
[00:31:44] And then there’s a structure called the listening circle. It’s like you’re sitting around the fire, passing the talking stick around. But even virtually online is possible. It’s great! Where you have certain guidelines and then you have a structure where the facilitator basically calls names in a specific order. And I tell them, when I call your name, take a moment just to notice, is there something I want to say or not?
[00:32:12] And if not, just say pass, and then we’ll keep going around the circle and you always call the names in the same order. And it’s okay if you don’t have something to say now, because we’ll come back around and you’ll have another chance. And so what happens saying that there’s a structure telling the circle that you’re going to go around, that you don’t have to speak if you do not want to.
[00:32:34] And you can take a moment to think about it and that when you’re not speaking and you really listen to the other person, what happens is that then The introverts are glad that they’re noticed, but that they don’t have to say something. It’s not like the tension on themselves, but then because they don’t have to say something and they can say pass, then they feel less stressed.
[00:32:58] And usually they say something after the second or third round. For the extroverts, because they know they’ll get their chance. They don’t have to always be thinking, when am I going to talk? They spend a lot of time thinking, where am I going to get my voice in because it’ll get to them. And so I find that people who talk a lot actually end up maybe talking less over time.
[00:33:18] It’s more equal between people who speak and who don’t speak. And they also actually are more relaxed because they don’t have to work so hard to figure out when they’re going to talk.
[00:33:28] It equalizes the conversation. But to make sure you go around a few times, until the time is up or until everything’s been said can be really helpful.
[00:33:38] And usually groups will love it once they trust the process, they might think it’s a little weird at first, but once they trust the process, they really love it. And it’s so relaxing, like physically relaxing, like they feel better. Yeah. And that’s when you realize those power dynamics is taken away.
[00:34:00] Just in terms of group, I think we’re just at the beginning of that. There’s there’s more research happening right now with teams.
[00:34:06] Actually one podcast you’d probably enjoy listening to was, is with Dr. Guy Itzchacov. We did a short podcast and we talked about the listening circles there too, where he’s talking about listing training and the impact on teams also under high pressure environments. And so that might be something really interesting for you.
[00:34:24] I’ll send that one to you. And then probably the one with Neil van Quakebeke he talks about asking questions, but he, they did some research on whether questions, if you ask questions, if that helped get rid of the bad apple team, they thought so, but then they did this research and it didn’t work, but with, and then they found out later that it wasn’t the asking questions.
[00:34:48] That asking questions is just the spark. If you didn’t listen afterwards, then it won’t make the difference. It was actually,
[00:34:57] this is where it’s taken for granted.
[00:34:59] Yeah. Yeah. It’s one of those. I got like a good, it sounds like it’s a great ritual basically, and that kind of calms the head chatter around participation and, I’ll get my turn when I need it and if I need it. Interesting. So what are listening playgrounds?
[00:35:14] Cause you organize these things. What are what is that exactly?
[00:35:18] So I’ve realized that a lot of my learning through listening over time, after I thought I was already good. And then I realized, oh, I have a lot to learn. Happened through having playful experiences the, my mentor, my, one of my biggest mentor, every time we talk, he comes up with something new and playful, and I’m also have learned to do that over time.
[00:35:38] And And because of the research, showing that through experiencing that we actually get better. And so I decided to prototype some listening playgrounds. I called them super power playgrounds to see if in a short period of time, if you bring a bunch of people together to try some playful things around listening, without even explaining everything I’m explaining now to you on the podcast, just to experience things and to see.
[00:36:06] We can do some micro learning through experiences with different people and see if that would help. And so I did that in March every Friday, I had a group of people who prototype that with me. There were 16 people who I reached out my, in a smaller and in that group in a smaller group to see what that would be.
[00:36:26] And we had people from all around the world and all different ages and different cultures. We had everything from students to people who are executive managers to software engineers, to UX, to consultants. We had every different cultures and it worked. And so I was also challenging myself to really focus on small bits and to be able to do something within 45 minutes.
[00:36:53] Yeah, which is not always that easy. And and to make it fun and playful that it was playful and fun and it went so well that I’m going to start doing them once a month in June and just see what the response is. And I’ll open up, open that up to a wider group just to come and play and practice and then go from there.
[00:37:12] Great. If you have a blink or something, happy to put it in the show notes for people later one question that I like to ask guests is do you have any kind of team-building tips , from a listening perspective
[00:37:27] so some examples of what to do.
[00:37:31] just to circle back to what I said before with groups. , if you can facilitate listening with your team, you will start to create bonds. And if you can do it in all different ways in twos and groups of threes and circles, or have having people take turns or sharing stories or sharing experiences that will really have a huge impact.
[00:37:57] And it’s really quick. So there’s one example there’s something called a story carousel where you put people into groups of two and you can have them share a story of some sort. So one of the ones that I love to do, especially when you’re working in multicultural environments is to share a story about your.
[00:38:17] So I give people a few moments just to think about a story about your name and it can be why your parents named you the way they named you, how they found it, how they came up with your name, it can be the, your name has a meaning. It can be that like my, like Germans have a hard time pronouncing my name.
[00:38:32] So I talk about that. And then you put people into groups and they take turns. So that one person talks about their names story for two minutes and they have the full two minutes. And then you shift to the other person where that person shares their story about their name for a full two minutes.
[00:38:48] If a person finishes early, like a minute, then the person listening can ask questions to help, be curious. They don’t, they shouldn’t interrupt not to interrupt too quick. But if that person has the full two minutes, but not to go over so that there’s equal time and often when you have these interactions with names, you learn so much, it’s not just the name. You learn a lot about that. Person’s culture about their family. You learn things that will help you work more with that person in the future. So I’ll have people do this and then I’ll bring them back to the group and you don’t have to do this, but I have people notice, what did you learn about that person that will help you work with them more in the future?
[00:39:29] You’ve just learned something that will help you do that. And often they find often they find common ground or, they start to feel connection with that person. They see them as a person.
[00:39:38] Another story I’d love to use is, think about a time that someone helped you at work or think about a time that you helped someone at work. Like these are all different levels of stories and just a couple minutes, each story, and you learn a lot about that person and what they find helpful, what their strengths are. What’s important to them, what their values are. I start listening to them. And and we even virtually in that moment, we were impacting each other physically.
[00:40:09] You actually feel physically more connected to that person you’re more energized, or you might notice that you feel happier, not just the content and people, if you can help people notice that, then you’ll start how they impact the interactions, how they impact each other, that has a huge impact on team bonding.
[00:40:28] Yeah, no, that’s great. Thank you. And one other question, are there are there any particular resources that you would recommend, that you commonly find yourself recommending to people or giving, or something like that.
[00:40:49] Besides your book . Yes. There is an article that with a Harvard business review that was written by two scientists on this thing, who’ve done a metadata analysis on listening, Dr.
[00:41:05] Avi Kluger and Dr. Guy Itzchacov. I always laugh because I say his name wrong. Dr. Guy Itzchacov. And they talk about how listening helps people change. And if you know it in our work environment, there’s constant change and people have a hard time with change. And so they really lay out the listening science on how listening helps people change and how giving feedback without listening can actually be, can actual actually lower performance whether it’s positive feedback or negative feedback.
[00:41:41] And so th that’s a really great article to understand this. And why just by listening that helps your team change or helps people and change projects, how that process does that. So that I recommend a lot because it realize how big this listening is. There’s a lady named Laura Janusik who has a YouTube video channel where she gives lots of just short tips, listening tips, and we can.
[00:42:13] We can, I can give you the link to that video, but that’s really nice for just really practical, basic listening tips that can be really helpful for people in all different types of situations. And she’s also, has those, the science as well as the practical side of things. And I think that’s what a message I think is really important.
[00:42:33] Like for me, it’s really important that it’s not just what we think, but what is the science showing? Because there’s a lot of science coming out just now, right now. There’s a lot of stuff we’re just discovering. Now it’s becoming more visible. And what are the practical, how does that partner with the practical side of things?
[00:42:52] So those are a couple of things that I recommended.
[00:42:55] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. One resource of yours that I’d highly recommend is your TEDx video. So that’s your talk is there anything else anywhere where people should go to check you out or where are you typically are on social media?
[00:43:12] You’re welcome to check out my podcast. I have a podcast where I interview people who are doing things with listening in ways that are probably surprising all different areas. So all the way from the scientist to you know, trainers, but also to people working in tech and how they’re using it.
[00:43:30] And so you can get a lot of different resources there. That might be interesting. You have to pick pick and choose what suits you. And, but there’s a lot of really good stuff there. I think there’s a lot of people doing a lot of great stuff and listening. And so you might be surprised at what’s there and I’ll be having some more videos coming out.
[00:43:49] In the next half year with some of the newer science that’s coming out, but we still have to do the recordings and I’ll be doing that with my mentor, Dr. Avi Kluger. He’s one of the best or one of the scientist, who’s doing a lot of the work. That’s really furthering the stuff where I’m understanding a lot of stuff.
[00:44:04] So we’ll be doing some stuff, but that’s coming up soon. And that’s based on the findings that they have with listening at work. So that’s really important. How can we bring more listening into organizations and into teams and how can we bring it into more at a more systemic level integrated into the stuff that we’re doing.
[00:44:22] And I think if we can learn how to do that, and we’re at the beginning of this. We can have a lot more influence on our productivity and actually people feeling better because there’s a lot of problems right now with burnout and whatnot. So this will be really important if people are interested in that, then they should definitely reach out because a lot of us are trying to figure it out right now on how to make that work better.
[00:44:44] Yeah. Yeah. But otherwise LinkedIn reached out on LinkedIn. That’s where I post stuff. I’m on Instagram, but LinkedIn is probably the place where I spend more time.
[00:44:56] Great. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Tagged as: listening.