Interview with Dr. Mark Goulston
What is the main message that you hope your audiences take away from your presentations?
The more centered, clear and poised you are in dealing with every situation, especially the most challenging ones, the more influence you will have in your company, your community, your family and beyond.
Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?
The audience’s universally delighted reaction every time I share my story of standing up to and then backing down F. Lee Bailey when I was an adviser to the Prosecution in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and when I was sequestered on the day that Detective Mark Fuhrman took the 5th Amendment (See Video). Why? Because on that day I learned 80% of what I know about standing up to difficult people and bullies and I love sharing it as an example of turning a day where I felt nauseated into a triumph.
How does humor play a part in the way you communicate with your audiences?
A big part especially when it is not canned and flows spontaneously from what I am saying. I don’t like using canned humor, although I am thinking of making an exception with my opening that nearly always receives an appreciative and acknowledging laugh at the beginning when I say, “Well, just like you, I can hardly wait to find out what I am going to say.” See… it even made you laugh, didn’t it?
How can organizations gain from better communication?
Often, highly transactional people push back and tell me, “Why should I listen to others? (when clearly they want people to listen to them)” My response is, “The more others talk, the more they pay.” And my evidence for that? How many people do you know that talk too much and drive people away not to mention, lose sales and lose having influence. Proof of this fact is the my Harvard Business Review blog, How to Know if You Talk Too Much, was the most popular blog and editor’s choice the week it came out.
What are your best tips for “getting through to anybody”?
When people are talking to you, especially when they have talked too much, unconsciously they are expecting you to push back or get into a debate with you. The last thing they will be expecting is for you to focus on something they said that had emotion attached to it, calmly pause after they finally stop talking and then have you ask them to “Say more about (that emotional item).” When you do that, you will notice their becoming disarmed and then after you keep them talking without your pushing back, they will be appreciative and more open to hearing what you have to say.