How to Communicate Better Mark Goulston

Bestselling Author Mark Goulston started as a clinical interventional psychiatrist and UCLA professor of psychiatry. He learned to “hack” into the minds of suicidal and potentially violent individuals to prevent acts of destruction to others or themselves. He next went on to train FBI and police hostage negotiators. Mark has written several books on effective communication that teach you how to get your message heard using a powerful communications secret – listening.

Mark began his career as a psychiatrist with a specialty in crisis intervention. There are many instances where a patient will be admitted to a mental hospital because they’re suicidal and then in order to get discharged a psychiatrist on the outside needs to agree to see them because they still require treatment outside the hospital setting. Mark helped many patients abandon their suicidal tendencies. It was while seeing these patients that Mark developed the skill of “listening into” somebody. He drew from these experiences to write his first book, Just Listen.

Our conversation was fascinating and covered many topics including: psychology, how to develop a book title that grabs your audience, and techniques for communicating. Here are a few of the takeaways:

  • The power of listening into somebody. Listening into somebody means looking at the conversation from their point of view.
  • The difference between listening and listening into.
  • The power of listening and how it delights us.
  • The key to listening is to care about what the person is saying when they’re talking to you. If you care about what people are saying and you are truly present with them in that moment, they will let you take them anywhere.
  • It’s important that you don’t do a bait and switch. If you’re listening to a customer simply to try and sell them something and you don’t genuinely care about them itwill show through.
  • The importance of staying true to your values.
  • Use the Think like Steve Jobs Formula to come up with great book titles.
  • Writing thoughtful reviews can be a great way to network with authors.
  • How to network using LinkedIn discussions.
  • How to be truly present in a conversation.
  • Be a first-class noticer.
  • The purest form of listening is listening without memory or desire.
  • The importance of letting go of your own personal agenda when you’re listening to people.
  • The value of Purposeful Agendaless Listening
  • When networking get the person you are networking with to talk about something that is important to them. If you can have a conversation with someone that helps them be a clear on something important to them they will be grateful to you and you will form a strong connection.
  • Be more interested than interesting. Be more fascinated than fascinating.
  • Boredom occurs when I fail to make the other person interesting.
  • Write what it is you would like to read. Whenever you get stuck staring at the screen just ask yourself, “what would I like to say here” or, “what would I like my character to say here?” Even if it’s not exactly right at least he gives you a jumping off point to make it better.
  • The difference between should and want and why it’s important.

How to Communicate Better Mark Goulston quote image

How to Calm Down Irrational People with the FUDN Approach

The FUDN approach stands for:

Now What

It works like this. Imagine you are talking to someone who is very angry. When they take a break from ranting you say, “you sound frustrated what’s that about?” And then you listen to what they have to say. When you’re listening you need to listen for four things: hyperbole (exaggerated statements or claims, whether negative or positive), inflection, adjectives and adverbs.

Hyperbole, inflection, adjectives and adverbs all have emotional juice in them. So what you do after you’ve asked the first question is listen, then ask them to tell you more about whatever they’re getting emotional about. So if someone tells you that something is “awful,” you respond, “talk more about what’s awful.”

What you’re trying to do is give the person you’re listening to a conduit to get rid of their frustration safely. Once you judge that the frustration is diffused you move on to stage 2 and say, “if I were you I would be upset, what are you upset about?”

After you ask the upset question you listen for the same four things you were looking for in stage 1: hyperbole, inflection, adjectives and adverbs. Again, you’re listening for these things because they indicate where the speaker’s emotion is. Once you understand what’s really bothering somebody asked them to elaborate until you feel you’ve pulled the upset out of them.

Then you move on to stage 3 and you say to them, “if I were you I would be disappointed. Are you disappointed about something or someone? Are you disappointed in me?”

After you ask the disappointment question and listen to the answer you follow up like this: “this is too important for me not to understand. So I want to make sure I’ve got this right. You said you were frustrated by [whatever they were frustrated by], you said you were upset because [whatever made them upset], and you said you were disappointed in [whatever they were disappointed in]. Do I have that right?”

This exchange does four things. First, it tells the people you’re listening to that they are important. Second, it allows you to go over what you heard and make sure you understood what they were saying. Third, it forces them to listen to what you’re saying. Finally, the act of listening things will calm down the person you’re talking to.

After you’ve done all that and gone through the conversation you move on to the final step and say, “given that all of that is true, now what?

This process allows you to de-escalate a situation and help someone get things off their chest while moving into a place where they can talk about what to do next.

The 4 Step Formula to Think Like Steve Jobs (And Come up with a Great Book Title)

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest salesman of all time. Every time Steve would introduce a new product he would follow a process designed to compel the masses to buy his stuff. The process consists of four stages:

1. Whoa — this stage interrupts whatever the prospect is currently doing. This is where they say, “I can’t believe what I just saw, heard or felt.”
2. Wow — after you’ve gotten through to their distracted mind you amaze, astonish, or fascinate them
3. Hmm — is when you make the audience say, “That’s too good not to use somehow.”
4. Yes — is when you show the audience a way to do something with it, and they commit to action.

An idea for a blog post

It’s amazing how far you can get if you’re respectful. Make a list of 20 people you would like to connect with in your life. Even if you are a new author and relatively unknown, with e-mail today it’s usually possible to at least get in touch with someone’s assistant. All you do is e-mail them this question: “if you had one do over in your career, what would you do over and why?” You can then use the responses as the basis for a blog post.

If you don’t want to use your own blog you can tell people you’re writing an article for LinkedIn. This give you some credibility because you’re writing for a well-known site and anyone can write articles for LinkedIn.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

Just Listen — Mark’s first book on listening. The book teaches you the tools and techniques of how to listen into somebody.

Talking to Crazy — Mark’s latest book on how to calm down and irrational people and get them to listen to reason.

Get out of your own way — a book about overcoming self-defeating behavior.

The confidence course — a book on how to gain and maintain self-confidence.

What your girlfriend wants you to know — A video by Mark to help you understand your girlfriend

The Inner Game of Tennis — A book about peak performance states and the game of tennis.

Solving for Simultaneous Experiences: an Algebraic Approach to Getting Unstuck — an article about how to get unstuck in life. — Mark’s home page

Follow Mark on twitter: @markgoulston

read Mark’s articles on bizjournals including his most recent article: 7 comebacks to a verbal bully — the company Mark consults for

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