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The 4 Levels of Talking with Someone According to Dr. Mark Goulston, Ep #229

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Dr. Mark Goulston is back by popular demand! In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, I chat with Dr. Goulston about becoming a better listener—which includes learning how to talk with people. Dr. Mark shares that there are four levels of talking to someone. You can talk over them, at them, to them, or with them. How do you know which you’re doing? What should you do instead? Learn more in this episode!


Outline of This Episode

  • [1:26] Dr. Mark Goulston is back by popular demand!
  • [4:20] The HUVA exercise will change everything
  • [8:34] What if you don’t add value to the conversation?
  • [10:24] The persuasion cycle: don’t move too fast
  • [12:50] The four levels of talking to someone
  • [23:16] How to delegate effectively
  • [27:46] How to get other people to excel emotionally
  • [29:35] You must adjust your tone for each person
  • [34:44] Learn more about Dr. Mark Goulston

The 4 levels of talking with someone

There are four levels of talking to someone. You can talk over them, at them, to them, or with them. How do you know which you’re doing? Dr. Goulston believes it’s all in their body language.

When someone talks over you, it’s insulting. When someone talks “at” you, it’s intimidating. You may hunker down to protect yourself. If someone is talking to you, you nod from the neck up. If someone talks with you, you lean in. You want more. Unfortunately, very few people feel talked with.

What is the counterparty listening for?

If you’re doing B2B selling or negotiating, many B2B buyers are listening for something that will get them a raise, a promotion, or a win. They’re also listening for something that could get them fired. You must be aware of the problems, the opportunities, but, more importantly, what they’re listening for.

In B2C sales, a customer or client is looking for an experience. Dr. Goulston emphasizes that “They want to move from feeling lousy to feeling better. From feeling stupid to feeling smart. From feeling weak to feeling powerful. From feeling confused to feeling confident.” If you can be aware of that, it will move you toward talking with them.

Talking with someone increases listening

If you’re not talking with someone, they may not be listening. Once you talk with them, the propensity for listening increases substantially. When you talk with someone great at communicating, you feel like the most important person in the world. The conversation is deep and intense, and you leave feeling understood.

A mentor of Dr. Goulston’s—Warren Bennis—used to say, “Try to be more interested than interesting. Try to be more fascinated than fascinating…” One of Dr. Goulston’s favorite quotes from Warren was, “Boredom occurs when we fail to make the other person interesting.”

Are you a person that people enjoy?

People have to figure out if they can trust someone. Is he going to be a jerkDoes he really care about me? Dr. Goulston has been fortunate to have eight mentors, the last of which was Larry King. What Dr. Goulston valued the most about his mentors was their respect, their wisdom, but most of all, they enjoyed being with him. He was able to put a smile on their face. They spent time enjoying each other’s company.

Have you ever started by just exchanging information with someone? Then as the conversation unfolds, you realize that “I could become friends with this person?” Dr. Goulston believes this person passes the “inter-subjective moment” or “the inter-being moment.” The inter-being is the space between two people as they’re communicating. When you feel like you enjoy each other, feel empathized with, and feel protected, the inter-being goes up. If they feel you’re being dismissive or salesy, the inter-being goes down.

In the business world, there seems to be an impatience to get to that level in a relationship. But Dr. Goulston emphasizes that good negotiation is a function of good listening. If you can get the listening part right, everything else becomes easier.

Do yourself a favor and pick up Dr. Goulston’s book, “Just Listen.” Follow him online, listen to his show, and dig deep into communication. For more information on how to listen well, listen to the whole episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Dr. Mark Goulston

Connect With Mark

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