The missing half of communication Communications / Member post / Storytelling

Written by: Megan Thomas, Secretary, IABC NSW

Last week IABC NSW had the pleasure of hosting Oscar Trimboli, to share his insights about the missing half of communication – listening.

Oscar is on a quest to create 100 million Deep Listeners in the world. He is an author, host of the Apple Award winning podcast—Deep Listening and a sought-after keynote speaker. He is passionate about using the gift of listening to bring positive change in homes, workplaces and the world.

He kicked off the session by telling us about how Aboriginal people practice deep listening (dadirri) as an almost spiritual skill, based on respect. Deep listening is about inner quiet, still awareness, and waiting – the foundation of his message to us during the session.  

So how can we be better listeners? Turns out it’s got a lot to do with neuroscience. We speak at a rate of 125 words per minute but can listen to 400 words per minute and think at a speedy 900 words per minute (even up to 1600 on complex tasks). Therefore there is only an 11% chance the first thing someone says is what they actually mean. As listeners, Oscar says it is not our job to make sense of what is being said, our role is to help the speaker process their own thoughts and ideas.

According to Oscar, these three phrases will transform the way we listen (by helping the speaker): 

  1. “Tell me more” – you’ll often see a change in posture when you ask this   
  2. “And what else?” – good if someone is stuck repeating the same thing
  3. “Be silent”  – silence can be powerful, don’t be tempted to fill in the gaps

But before you do any of that, the first place to start is with yourself. You can’t be a good listener if you have too many browser tabs open in your own mind. So, make sure you are ready to listen by switching off your devices and support your parasympathetic nervous system by taking three deep breaths. Hydration and having a glass of water to hand also helps good listening.   

Oscar also shone a light on our listening blind spots by asking, “Which one of the four listening villains are you?”  

  1. Interrupter – loves pressing the buzzer before the quiz master has finished asking the question – but they often answer the wrong question
  2. Lost – find themselves wondering why am I at this meeting?
  3. Dramatic – get swept up in the emotion and drama of the story, and miss other key points
  4. Shrewd – have an ongoing internal dialogue and assessment about what they’re hearing – which means they will miss important parts

Take Oscar’s The 7 minute Deep Listening Quiz​ to identify your Listening Barriers and get a personalised 3 Step Action Plan to improve your listening capability.   

Thanks again to Oscar for his valuable thought provoking presentation. IABC NSW is also delighted that Oscar nominated his speaker gift to Can Too Foundation.  


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