#157 Carolyn Coughlin — Become a Better Listener - The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish ![rw-book-cover|200x400](https://images.weserv.nl/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fssl-static.libsyn.com%2Fp%2Fassets%2F5%2F9%2F0%2F7%2F590730c5f73a2ccebafc7308ab683e82%2Fknowledge-project-small.png&w=100&h=100) ## Metadata - Author: **The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish** - Full Title: #157 Carolyn Coughlin — Become a Better Listener - Category: #podcasts - URL: https://share.snipd.com/episode/0d72ba97-6fad-4018-9ae0-be74bdd72ed1 ## Highlights - The Knowledge Project Podcast Summary: I guess the first thing I would say is that listening tends to be contagious. So, how each of us listens does tend to wear off on other Transcript: Speaker 1 I guess the first thing I would say is that listening tends to be contagious. So, how each of us listens does tend to wear off on other people. ([Time 0:00:00](https://share.snipd.com/snip/b79509b8-1525-4b4d-bb87-36691f542c7b)) - The Importance of Connection in Leadership Key takeaways: (* Leaders need to be aware of the importance of connection between people in order to be successful., * Connection is key in order to trust and work together effectively.) Transcript: Speaker 1 And yet at the same time, the most complex problems that we need to work in our lives these days, they require us to see other perspectives. They require that we build trust and connection with other people. And so each time we kind of fortify our own identity as separate, we are severing connections that might actually be really, really important. Like on a team in an organization, if you have separation among people, it is a detriment to trust. And when you're dealing with really hard problems that can't be predicted and something just happens, you have to be able to trust each other in order to respond well. One of the things that I share about a lot these days is connection and how important that is. And leaders don't think of that necessarily as a core part of leadership, or at least they haven't. And it is. I think it's probably the most important thing. Speaker 2 When you say connection, what do you mean? Speaker 1 I mean the relationship between people. People actually thinking about impact on others, trust between people. It's connection between people, it's love, it's trust. You affect me, I affect you. And together, we are more than two people separately. ([Time 0:24:49](https://share.snipd.com/snip/d743e53f-0f4a-4c68-8dba-f4dc1f651f77)) - The Role of Language in Creating Habits Key takeaways: (* Language can be used to create an identity., * This identity can be a source of commitment and consistency bias.) Transcript: Speaker 1 There are several, but I would say the biggest one is that when we meet, whether it's about a client situation or whether it's some internal thing that we're discussing or whether it's just that we're getting together, just to be together, we start every meeting with the check-in. We see it as a system scanning exercise. So the check-in, someone poses a question, and every person in their room responds to the question, and then we step back and get on the balcony and look at the patterns. The question being, what's in the room today? What are the patterns we're seeing, and particularly when you do a check-in, it's important not only to see the commonalities, the themes, but also pay attention to the outliers and also what wasn't said. So it could take a long time to check in in this way, and if you think about it, when you bring a group of people together to do something, it's the people themselves that matter the most. That's the raw material from which the work is getting done. We were doing it since the beginning, and one of our clients caught on to it early on, and then it sort of became a thing that a lot of our clients do as well. Speaker 2 I want to come back to identity and language just for a second before we go to the next topic. Is it something where we can create our identity through language? If we, for instance, want to go to the gym or be healthier, and you say to yourself that I go to the gym every day, I am the type of person who goes to the gym every day, even though you're not, you're creating this identity, and then you almost have a commitment and consistency bias to live up to this identity that you fabricated in your head, just with these words. And so you're more likely to go to the gym because you see yourself as that type of person, even though maybe perhaps that wasn't, you're using language to create a habit. ([Time 0:33:13](https://share.snipd.com/snip/0fd84a32-dcf9-4f36-ad0e-f0a07949b9c1)) - How to Create an Environment That Encourages Success Key takeaways: (* Gyms sell 12 month memberships in November and December in order to create conditions for profitability., * The environment we create in our head is also important, and can be influenced by the people around us.) Transcript: Speaker 2 That's why they sell 12 month memberships in November and December, right? Exactly. Yeah. Speaker 1 They're creating their own conditions for profitability because they know the patterns of human beings, the people who own the gyms. Speaker 2 What about something that comes to mind for me and this could be completely off but sort of like hang around people whose default behavior is your desired behavior? So if I'm a leader and I want to cultivate better listening and I hang around somebody like you, do I naturally sort of acquire better listening? Or if I am a runner and I join a running group, then I start to hang around with people who run and then it makes it more likely that I become a runner or that I enjoy running and then that makes me run even more. I often think about how environment we think of our environment most of the time when it comes to mind is physical. But our environment is also our identity, right? We're creating an environment in our head, an artificial environment, if you will. ([Time 0:39:10](https://share.snipd.com/snip/5fabd099-c132-411b-8fd1-cfa4726e4d21)) - How to Listen Effectively Key takeaways: (* Listening is contagious., * There are specific techniques that help people listen better.) Transcript: Speaker 1 I've never had anybody ask me exactly that question before Shane. I guess the first thing I would say is that listening tends to be contagious. So how each of us listens does tend to wear off on other people. So I noticed, again, with my children, that when I listen, what we call, I have a call listening to when, which is to just make them wrong, or like when I say, well, that's not true. You look great. Or don't worry about that. You know, you'll be fine. It might feel good to me in the moment, but it's not kind of, they don't feel heard. But that mind that when people feel really, really, truly seen and heard, it's one of the most extraordinary experiences that a person can have. And so just being around that and having the experience of being on the receiving end of that sort of deep listening where you feel truly seen and fully seen is itself a condition for learning to listen. Well, on the other end of the spectrum, there are very particular techniques that help people listen. ([Time 0:42:30](https://share.snipd.com/snip/99a26cc3-891a-4ef0-a5c7-1eb64177683a)) ## New highlights added January 25, 2023 at 7:56 AM - The Importance of Listening to Our Emotions Key takeaways: (* Listening is important, and can be done in a variety of ways., * It is important to be aware of what is happening in our bodies, and to ask others for help in this process.) Transcript: Speaker 2 No, I mean, this sort of comes back to manner for Mars, women are from Venus in a way, right, which is women typically listen to learn men typically listen to fix problem solve. And this creates a divide between us or in your word earlier instead of a divide it creates space between us. But we tend to think that listening just applies to words, but we can also listen to our bodies. I mean, our emotions are feelings. These all come from the same systems that produce our words and our bodies tend to respond to our environment more than our words or quicker than our words. How can we learn to listen to our emotions, our feelings, our body and what it's telling us. Speaker 1 This one, I'll start with how someone else can help us do that. And this is what a lot of coaches do this coaches who pay attention to the people's somatic experience is simply to ask. So if you were to say, Shane, I feel really like I have to get this thing done right now. I'm so busy. I can't be distracted by anything else. I might say. So where do you feel that in your body? ([Time 0:55:08](https://share.snipd.com/snip/94d6cacb-2fce-4760-bdc1-da6629c1254f)) - Intra Personal Polarity Key takeaways: (* Polarity management is based on the work of Barry Johnson and it is a way to understand how organizations need to be decentralized and centralized over time., * Intra personal polarity is a question of focusing on one's own needs or focusing on others' needs.) Transcript: Speaker 1 Polarity management was the one that I was going to talk about next. Yeah. So in a nutshell, for those of you listeners who are not familiar with what a polarity is, this is based on the work of Barry Johnson, who developed the idea of a polarity years and years ago, decades ago. And I don't know whether it's just me who now sees it sees polarity and polarity work everywhere or whether it's becoming more commonplace. I think it's a little bit of both. But a polarity is it's two things that are interconnected and that over time you need them both. So it's like an example in organizations is centralized, decentralized. If the question is, do we need to be decentralized or centralized? The answer is most likely both. Sometimes we need to be decentralized. Sometimes we need to be centralized. In some places, it's in its dynamic over time. In a very personal sense, what I would call an intra personal polarity is like, is a question of do I focus on my needs or do I focus on others needs? ([Time 1:05:05](https://share.snipd.com/snip/54716ec6-d4a1-43e1-b7fb-aae586821b26)) - The Unhelpful Habits I Used to Keep My Life Running Smooth Key takeaways: (* One of the things that was unhelpful for the author was trying to be on top of everything., * The author now values time spent on things that are valuable.) Transcript: Speaker 2 Two other questions before we wrap up here, one of which is what did you use to spend time on that you now see as unhelpful or not valuable? Speaker 1 Oh my goodness, that's such a good question. The first thing that comes to mind is trying to be on top of everything. So I used to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to attend to everything from answering every email, you know, within a certain amount of time, to having a clean inbox, you know, where I could actually see the bottom of the inbox on the first page. Attending to, making sure my house was clean. This is one that I just had to give up when I had three young kids. ([Time 1:13:34](https://share.snipd.com/snip/e28a15d7-1d85-48c7-9cd1-0f21f5535e6c)) - The Complexity of Success Key takeaways: (* Humans are complex and it can be hard to change., * Success for one person may not be success for another., * One of the main goals of life is to be remembered by others.) Transcript: Speaker 2 I think it's also interesting where email is a medium where you want to be seen as reliable. We have this innate desire, but anybody can just email you and you serve your time without your permission. And then you are mapping this to you, but I feel guilty if I don't respond to people. And I'm like, but I never asked for this email. I never wanted this email. Like, why am I the one who's on the receiving end of this sort of guilt? And I'm putting it on myself, obviously, and not other people. Is that what happens with you too? Speaker 1 I just think what we're both describing here is how incredibly complex we are as human beings. And why it could be so hard to change because we have this fact to identity, this sense of ourselves as a certain kind of person, and it has worked. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here at this place where we have this identity in the first place. Speaker 2 And last question. What is success mean to you? Speaker 1 It sounds so trite. I just want to look back on my life and know that my presence mattered to somebody else. Like, that by me being in, whether it's in a room, you know, running a workshop or whether it's in ([Time 1:17:55](https://share.snipd.com/snip/1c749568-c0cb-4738-b36d-7f0102f31876))