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Learn to Listen with Oscar Trimboli

George Grombacher January 13, 2023

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Learn to Listen with Oscar Trimboli

LifeBlood: We talked about how to learn to listen and the benefits of getting better, why there’s a lot more to effective listening than simply paying attention to words, how to listen to what people mean versus what they’re saying, and how to get started, with Oscar Timboli, author, speaker, and listening expert.

Listen to learn four tips for better listening!

You can learn more about Oscar at,,  Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Get your copy of How to Listen HERE

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Oscar Trimboli

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00

Unknown Speaker 0:16
this is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Oscar Trimboli. Oscar, are you ready to do this?

Unknown Speaker 0:23
Yeah, can I join you? I’m looking forward to listening to your questions, that’s for sure. I appreciate that I’m excited to have you on Oscar is the author of How to listen. Discover the hidden key to better communication. He is a professional speaker, consultant, and an award winning podcast host. Oscar, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:47
I think to understand why I do what I do, you have to zoom in to 2008 and April in a boardroom, where I was in a budget meeting with 18 people over three continents. And my Vice President looked me straight in the eye in the room and she said Oscar, we need to speak immediately after his meeting.

Unknown Speaker 1:05
I forgot whatever else happened for the rest of the meeting, George because the only thing going through my head was how many weeks of salary have I got left in my bank account. And it wasn’t a good story. I think it was nine weeks. But in my game, and the role I was in would probably take me the best part of six months to get a new job. The meeting finished early 20 minutes early, actually. And Tracy asked me to close the door. And she said you have no idea what you did at the 20 minute mark to you. And I thought Great, I’m getting fired. And I don’t know why. And she said if you could code how you listen, you could change the world. George the only thing going through my head was

Unknown Speaker 1:42
and be fired. I didn’t care about what Tracy said about listening. In fact, I blanked out the rest of the conversation because I could put all that money that are taken out of my bank account. And I’ve honored Tracy’s request. And I’ve spent the last two decades of my life coding how to listen through quizzes, books, playing cards, jigsaw puzzle games, online assessment tools, and along with a deep listening Ambassador community, a group of like minded people in the workplace, we’re on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the workplace.

Unknown Speaker 2:16
Well, I’m grateful for the work. I’ve long known that one of the greatest gifts that we can give to another person is our undivided attention and listening is is certainly

Unknown Speaker 2:28
what percentage of our undivided attention is listening so that the majority

Unknown Speaker 2:34
well used an interesting phrase, the greatest gift we can give is our attention. Some people think about paying attention rather than giving attention as well. Paying attention feels like an obligation that feels like taxation, you have to do it. Whereas when you give attention, it feels like an act of generosity and active curiosity and active connection. Now, here’s the good news and the bad news, you have to pay attention and give attention you can’t exclusively do one or the other. It’s very difficult to give your undivided attention for extended periods of time. As humans we are wired for distraction.

Unknown Speaker 3:15
We have peripheral vision, we have peripheral hearing, I want to give you three numbers so you know the maths of listening. And then we can get to understand why it’s so difficult to give your complete and undivided attention. 125 409 101 25 words per minute, average speaking speed 200 words per minute as a caveat auctioneer or a horse race color can tell you 200 words per minute, right the weekend listen to YouTube videos. And in fact, you may be listening on your podcast player at two times speed can still comprehend. The reason is this you can listen at 400 words per minute. That’s the second number. Your listening speed is approximately four times faster than the speaker’s speaking speed. As a result, you jumped ahead, you anticipate your soul you get distracted.

Unknown Speaker 4:09
This is there to help us survive as a species

Unknown Speaker 4:13
that those three numbers are those first two numbers are interesting. The third number is their most important number is 900 words per minute, is the speed because thinking speed.

Unknown Speaker 4:25
So they’re thinking about 900 words per minute. If you’re in a workplace that’s complex, collaborative competitive has conflicts, you’re probably thinking up to 1600 words per minute.

Unknown Speaker 4:38
Here’s the critical thing you need to know when you’re listening. The first thing the speaker says is 14% of what they think.

Unknown Speaker 4:49
Therefore, the most important thing to listen for is not what they say. But what they haven’t said. You need to move your odds from 14%

Unknown Speaker 5:00
to something that’s a bit more sustainable 28% would be doubling your odds.

Unknown Speaker 5:08
Many of us are just having dialogue with the first 14%. And we wonder why were struggling to make sense of what they’re saying. Now, you’re nodding furiously, George, I’m curious what’s going through your head right now.

Unknown Speaker 5:22
My wife will say, You look like a bobblehead.

Unknown Speaker 5:27
When she watches me, listen to people. But that’s just my way of being an active listener. And I’m fascinated by that. The average word per minute that that we speak, and then what we can listen at, and then what a speaker can can. Is it what a speaker understands, or what is what I’m thinking, what oh, 900 words a minute stuck in their head thinking about what they’re trying to say.

Unknown Speaker 5:53
So your speed of thought is much faster than your speed of listening, and it’s much faster than your speed is speaking, as well. So if all they say, and the only thing you have a conversation with is the very first thing they say,

Unknown Speaker 6:11
you’re doomed to fail.

Unknown Speaker 6:14
Or who don’t. The other way to say it is, I’m happy with 14% odds of a successful conversation. But that’s not sustainable.

Unknown Speaker 6:24
The difference between good listeners and great listeners, good listeners try and make sense of what the speaker is saying. And great listeners help the speaker notice what they are thinking and what they mean.

Unknown Speaker 6:36
And when we talk about that, I’m often reminded of a story from Minnesota. We interviewed Jennifer, who was a former primary school teacher and her son, Christopher, and Christopher come home from school. Christopher was so excited. He said, Mommy, mommy, I’ll learn maths today. I learned a three out of eight. And Jennifer was distracted and she was looking after other kids and said, Honey, could you say that again? He said, Mommy, mommy, I’ll let the three is half of eight. And Jennifer, former primary school teacher put her hands in her face and thought, what are they teaching kids at school today?

Unknown Speaker 7:14
So she went to the kitchen cupboard, and she got out a packet of m&ms and took out eight m&ms and laid the eight m&ms out two rows, little chocolate soldiers four by four facing each other. And she picked Christopher up who was only in kindergarten at that time in primary school, and put him on the kitchen bench and asked him to count how many m&ms were there. And he said four on this side, mummy four on that side mummy and she said see Christopher for his half of a not three. And with that Christopher, he leapt off the bench like Superman. And he went to the corner cupboard, and he got a Sharpie, and a piece of paper and he drew the figure eight for his mom, and he folded the piece of paper in half for his mom. And then he tore it in half. And he showed his mom.

Unknown Speaker 8:04
Three was half of a not four. And he was thinking in geometry. And she was thinking in arithmetic. And this is the difference between what somebody says and what they mean. Now George, you’re a numbers man to

Unknown Speaker 8:21
guess what else is half of a zero is half of eight if you tear that piece of paper horizontally as well. But most of us are having conversations that are three is out of eight conversations. And because we listen for similarity rather than difference, we listened for the way we’ve been trained, we listen to pattern match.

Unknown Speaker 8:41
We go you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Three south of eight is wrong. Four is half of eight, because that’s how we’re being trained. That’s the logical understanding yet if we can embrace a world where we listen to what people mean, there’s more possibility for them and for us zero as half of a three out of eight for a survey. But most of us are obsessed with listening for the similar rather than exploring the difference

Unknown Speaker 9:09
a little bit that’s a that’s a powerful and very funny example

Unknown Speaker 9:16
at the moment

Unknown Speaker 9:18
What’s that? Have you had a three salivate moment

Unknown Speaker 9:23
I don’t know that I have in my I’ve got six and a three year old and and my six year old three years have six. My six year old is going through this kind of new new learning so I will keep my eyes and my ears open for for for those opportunities.

Unknown Speaker 9:45

Unknown Speaker 9:48
So we’re wired for distraction?

Unknown Speaker 9:53
AR AR AR is. Is there a kind of person that is inherently a better listener than that?

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Then somebody else are we all capable of being great listeners.

Unknown Speaker 10:05
The academic research will tell us that everybody’s capable listening is a skill. It’s a strategy. It’s a practice, you can learn very simple micro skills to start off with. Rather than taking gigantic leap forward. Don’t try and become an Olympic athlete. Just try and get from the couch to three miles. By doing one thing better each day. Each of us can get better, there is no natural born better listener. The reason why George 34 weeks inside your mother’s tummy, you can distinguish the sound of your mother’s voice from any other sound in the outside world. The first thing you’ll learn even before you’re born, is how to listen.

Unknown Speaker 10:51
And at 38 weeks, you can distinguish Beethoven from The Beatles from Bon Jovi from Justin bhiva. You can distinguish music.

Unknown Speaker 11:02
So we’re born natural listeners. And what happens is we see a whole group of role models around us role modeling, a bias for speaking. So our listening muscles get a little bit weak.

Unknown Speaker 11:17
Three tips we know our deep listening Ambassador community, we’ve got a 14 110 people in a group that we’ve been tracking for four years.

Unknown Speaker 11:26
And these three things will help you the little simple things improve your listening. Number one, notice your listening battery. Most people aren’t even aware they have a listening battery. Most of us are drained when we come to a conversation our listening battery may be yellow, or red, slowly moving towards shutdown. If we’re conscious of our listening battery, we realize that listening happens before, during and after the conversation. Focusing on the speaker is the wrong place to start listening. You have to listen to yourself first. And sometimes if you’re listening batteries are red. Probably not a good time for you to be in a conversation you may need to reschedule. How do you recharge your listening battery really quickly before a conversation just listen to music. I’ve got three songs that are completely different tempo, and they recharge my listening batteries are really quick think of a supercharger for a Tesla, or some kind of super fast charger for your iPhone or your Android device. Music will rewire your brain really quickly. Tip number two drink a glass of water before you go into the conversation or drink a glass of water during the conversation every 30 minutes, you should be drinking a glass of water anyway, this sends a signal here to the parasympathetic nervous system which just sits around your lungs.

Unknown Speaker 12:52
And it says everything’s okay you can relax. Now one thing the deep listening Ambassador sales get these tips are so simple.

Unknown Speaker 13:02
But practicing is really hard. Yet when they do practice them. On average, they say they get 15% of their time back in their schedule during the week or about four hours. And tip number three.

Unknown Speaker 13:17
take three deep breaths before you go into a conversation. Notice your breathing during the conversation. And notice the speaker’s breath as well.

Unknown Speaker 13:29
The final one,

Unknown Speaker 13:32
use the technology don’t let the technology use you digital distractions, other pollution for listening.

Unknown Speaker 13:41
Now some people you’re in encore professions, you may be an ER doctor, you may be a production line worker who has to make sure that production line runs seven by 24, you will need to manage your notifications. For the rest of you that are not performing life saving surgery, that notification coming through.

Unknown Speaker 14:05
Unless it’s your childcare center or your doctor calling you about your mom or your mother in law. It’s not going to be that important. So use the technology don’t let the technology use you. Whether you’re on a Mac or a PC, an Android or an iPhone, there is one button in all the system settings that will say if I’m in a meeting based on the calendar, switch off my notifications, then they’ll come back in after that. For very simple things to do, George

Unknown Speaker 14:36
it’s in practicing it consistently. That’s going to make the difference for all of us. That makes a ton of sense. Thank you for those. I love them. You mentioned three songs that you listen to Oscar, will you share one or two or show? Yeah, there are different tempos. So the first song is Marconi union. And Marconi union is about 80 beats per minute. It’s an instrumental There’s no word

Unknown Speaker 15:00
Seeing it. And I always use the energy of the meeting, I’m going to not the energy I’m at. So if I have to do deep complex work with somebody who’s dealing with climate change and insurance policy pricing as a result, that’s not a really upbeat conversation that really requires deep thinking. The second one Groove Armada, it’s upbeat, it’s about 130 beats per minute. It’s a light, it’s a playful song. Typically, I use that for workshops, anywhere where I have to bring a light and playful energy. And finally, the last one, remember the name by for minor, about 150 beats per minute, it’s a rap, I love it for its poetry, the energy in the song is really potent. And if I have to bring more energy to the group than the group has, that’s the song I play, all of us will have a playlist that does it for us, just have a quick way to play the music so you can rewire your brain and get your listening battery recharged really fast. Love it. So at the end of the day, when I’ve gotten the kids dinner, and my wife walks in the door from work, and I’m super frazzled, I need to take three big deep breaths, have a glass of water, and maybe listen to a little bit of music.

Unknown Speaker 16:19
That will be great. George, I’ll be curious, when you experiment with that what you notice is different and more importantly, the value of your listening, it’s got nothing to do with how you think about it. It’s got to do with how your wife thinks you’re listening to her what’s really interesting in our research, 74.9% of people think they’re either well above average or above average when it comes to their listening. And when we asked the speaker the same question, they say 12% of people are well above average or above average when it comes to their listening. So we think we’re six times better at listening than we actually are. Because the value of your listening sits with the speaker, not with you

Unknown Speaker 17:02
are very human of us are very, very human. And, and I’m sure your wife, no different to mine will remind you very rapidly when you’re not listening, men tend to listen to fix, and women tend to listen to feel. So for the men out there listening right now, don’t try and fix your wife. She’s not broken. She just needs you to listen. Amen.

Unknown Speaker 17:29
I think we could probably close on that. But I really want to close this loop. You talked about how we can get

Unknown Speaker 17:36
a 15% essential return on time by improving our listening skills. Why is that? Or how is that? So the technique after you’ve mastered those four simple techniques is the next technique we teach the people listening ambassadors is that the beginning of a conversation, ideally, even before the conversation commences maybe a day before a week before, asked this question, what will make this a good conversation? Not what will make this a good conversation for you, George, because a conversation is the intersection of a speaker or listener and an outcome. There’s three dimensions to this conversation. When we just say what’s a good conversation for you. It’s a lopsided discussion. It’s not really a productive workplace discussion. So we ask that question to create a listening compass for the rest of the conversation. This is our North setting for the conversation, I want you to imagine a one hour meeting. Now, quick commercial break, please never make a one hour meeting. Time is fictitious. A meeting can be 50 minutes, and it can be just as productive as a 60 minute meeting. But unfortunately, your default software is using you use the technology don’t let the technology issue. One hour meetings should be 50 minute meetings. Half hour meetings should be 25 minute meetings. But I digress. Let’s further up the food tree when it comes to our listening. Remember, we’ve got a listening compass. George has told us what would make it a great conversation every 15 minutes. I’m going to check in with George and say, George, at the beginning of the meeting, you said blah, would make it a great conversation for us. How are we tracking? We know three things happen in our research data, number 120 8% of people go. Thanks, Oscar. I’ve got everything I need. Do you need anything else? Because I think we can wrap it up. So a one hour meeting just became a 15 minute meeting. Or second part that happens is this.

Unknown Speaker 19:34
Oscar, I’ve got everything we need on that. But now that I think about it, actually, can we go over here and talk about this because this is more important to us in the context of blah. Sure, no problem. At the half hour meeting point we check in again. George Mueller said this is why we’re tracking how are we going? You know what else got? I’ve got everything I need, we can cut the meeting short

Unknown Speaker 20:01
won’t go through to the 45 Minute you get the game plan.

Unknown Speaker 20:05
Most of us focus on what said rather than having a process in place for how we say it, the Northstar, the very simple question that says, What will make this a great conversation is the setting for the speaker and the listener and the outcome. It’s got nothing to do with the agenda. It’s got nothing to do with, you know, the elements in the agenda. It’s how we’re going to have the conversation.

Unknown Speaker 20:31
What are listening ambassadors say consistently is this question with a check in is where they save their time. Now, 15% is nearly four hours in a working week. And I know that most of us work a little longer than our standard working week. So the promise is, if you listen before, during and after the conversation, if you move from the content to focusing on what’s not said,

Unknown Speaker 20:56
you’ll get back at least 15% of your time in workplace conversations. I don’t know about you, George. That’s a pretty good ROI. I couldn’t agree more. Not only am I being a better human being and giving my full attention, but I’m also getting a massive benefit. I think that we could all use 5% more time. 10% Certainly 15% more time. So thank you. And Oscar, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And where can they get a copy of how to listen? How to listen is available at all great retailers. Rather than getting in touch with me get in touch with your listening visit listening Take the seven minute assessment, you’ll get a report that tells you the barrier number one barrier to listening, and three tips that are personalized to you about it. So listening You can discover more about yourself after you’ve read the bulk. Excellent. If you enjoyed as much as I did show Oscar your appreciation, and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas pick up your copy of how to listen discover the hidden key to better communication where you buy your books and then go to listening and find out just how good of a listener you really are. And then get those three personalized tips and become a better listener. Thanks again, Oscar. Thanks for listening. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best to become a better listener for goodness sakes.

Transcribed by

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