Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 141 | April 27, 2021
Learn to Listen
Owner - Dexterity Solutions Limited
Hello and welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. This podcast is all about communication, and an essential aspect of good communication is listening, I believe it’s a lost art in this fast-paced world. Today, I’m excited to have as my very special guest, Colin Smith, who is commonly known as “The Listener.” Colin is one of the U.K.’s foremost listening skills specialists who works with individuals as well as teams within organizations who want to be heard, think smarter, and transform their business and personal relationships through active listening. Having a varied and successful career, Colin realized much of his success was due to his listening and connecting abilities, which led him to develop a series of programs to develop these skills and others. His inquisitive and curious mind leads him to explore unusual thought provoking, yet grounded observation and alternative approaches to business, people, systems, change, and innovations. As always, Dr. Orsini keeps his promise about two things, that you will feel inspired, and you will have learned valuable lessons to be a better and more compassionate communicator.
Colin tells us about his journey, his business Dexterity Solutions, and how he became known as “The Listener.” We learn why he thinks that people are having more and more trouble listening. Dr. Orsini tells us how he teaches conflict resolution in his workshops to help with listening to words and listening to non-verbal cues, and Colin shares how we can all be better listeners. Find out what he means by, “We hear from, we listen to.” Find out the importance of eye contact, and why it is fo hard for some people. Dr. Orsini talks about multitasking in teens, adults, and physicians, and how it relates to communication and listening. Colin explains why he believes technology is to blame for the listening crisis currently happening. Also, the important thing to remember is that we all need reassurance, that we matter, and if we validate the patient, team members, or colleagues, it would make a big difference. We also learn from Colin about “survive, dive, and thrive,” Dr. Orsini and Colin talk about the importance of listening in group settings and boardrooms. We end with Colin explaining how all conversations can be difficult for different people, for different reasons, and gives great advice on how to navigate through them. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit follow, and download all the previous episodes to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication.
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Colin Smith (1s):
I mean, I think the first hurdle to get over is that most people think they are good listeners when the not, they look at it and they go, oh, I’ve got two ears what’s your problem? But it’s the difference between hearing and listening. And I use a very simple thought, which is we hear it from, we listened to, hearing is passive. It is about keeping us safe. Listing on the other hand, I have to intend to listen. If I wasn’t listening to the people I was referring to it, I would not have noticed what had happened. Cause I noticed the subtle shift. There was something that happened. And it could have been I was picking out visually. I could have picked it up hearing or even just a sense that something wasn’t quite right.
Colin Smith (48s):
So once that’s happened, they say, Oh, okay. So maybe I don’t listen very well.
Welcome to Difficult Conversations Lessons I learned as an ICU physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and President and CEO of The Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author. Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders, how to navigate through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 40s):
Well, welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversations: Lessons I learned as an ICU Physician. This is a Dr. Anthony Orsini, and I’ll be your host again this week. You know, this podcast is all about communication and an essential aspect of good communication is listening. I believe it’s a lost art in this fast paced world. And that’s why I’m especially excited to have as my very special guest, someone who is commonly known as a listener. Colin Smith, as one of the UK foremost listening skills specialists, he works with individuals as well as teams, within organizations who want to be heard, think smarter and transform their business and personal relationships through active listening.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 22s):
He has an innate ability to actively listen to people, enabling them to articulate their creative ideas, address their personal concerns, express their feelings more easily and to achieve their personal professional and life goals. Having had a varied and successful career in consultancy business development, it and customer support across many sectors, Colin realized much of his success was due to his listening and connecting abilities. This led him to develop a series of programs to develop these skills and others. The importance of which organizations are now waking up to. His inquisitive and curious mind leads and to explore an unusual thought provoking yet grounded observation and alternative approaches to business, people, systems, change and innovations.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 11s):
Well, Welcome Colin, and this is a great topic that fits perfectly into our podcast. And so I’m really happy to have you here today.
Colin Smith (3m 17s):
Yeah. Thank you, Tony. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 20s):
I like to start off all the podcasts because they think it’s always so important for the listeners to get to know the person who is speaking on a personal level. And in fact, we had just talked about it, a Ted talk that I’m giving coming up. It will probably be done by the time this podcast airs, but that Ted talks all about being a genuine person and why it’s so important for doctors and patients to be relatable. And so I think let’s start off with who’s Colin. And how did you become The Listener and your journey and, and how you got here to this moment, which is the peak of your career to be on my podcast.
Colin Smith (3m 57s):
I think, is this a fair question that I often think about it is that bizarrely I am in the third half of my life and in the first half of the three halves, I was working in IT and understanding how computers worked and how they connected. In the second half It was more about working with people, understanding how they worked and how they connected. And in the third half, which has been really probably the last 10 or so years has been more about really connecting people and connecting people with a difference and making a difference. And if I look at that latter part is the challenge for me has been finding myself and I’ve been blessed.
Colin Smith (4m 42s):
And I say, I see that really honestly, about having to go in and go through two divorces. So we’ve got two children, one from each, but each of those has been move on in a way from, if you like to be coming more about who I really am. And that’s why I look at this as the third half, ’cause what I’m now doing is embodying more about who I am. And the idea I started when I sent my own business up as Dexterity Solutions was about connecting with people who make a difference and it still wasn’t quite right. So I knew there was some iterations going on from there. And I looked at the idea of positive deviance, and these are the people who see the world differently, but actually these people often introvert have a bigger vision than themselves, but they don’t shout about it, but there are actually transformational change people.
Colin Smith (5m 36s):
So could I find a way of getting these CEOs of organizations to understand and value these people more than they are now, and also be a voice for those positive deviants who aren’t really sharing themselves particularly well. So that got me thinking and it’s about seeing the world differently. So often when I talk about listening, I see that I’m actually pushing back against everything that’s going the other way. So we were looking at more texting, more messaging, more e-mail more curating who I would like to be rather than being someone real in front of someone. So in this conversation, for example, if I mess up, I’ve got to recover from it. But if I say something that you might not appreciate, I’ve got to recover from it rather than what is it I need to create about myself, that Tony will like.
Colin Smith (6m 26s):
And therefore I start putting on a facade, not being who I am now, and that’s hard work. So I work with that for a while. And then I come up with an idea which I called disruptive dialogue, and then explain to you that it’s two, three hours with me, but there’s no agenda, no perceived outcome. And I was paying for it. It’s a real hard sell that you’re going to have that. So that didn’t last very long. And then over lunch, one day we come up with the idea and we were talking about it and she said, one of the things you do really well is listening. And then we thought, well, what about a listening coach?
Colin Smith (7m 6s):
And the idea was like, this thing, coach has a fixing part of it. And I thought, well, maybe the listener, which is not about fixing it is about listening. And that was where it was born. And what’s lovely is that people send me things. I’ve had one recently from someone who I knew pretty about eight years ago, having spoken to them since, and he’d found an article on listening and he saw it, thought of me and just sent an email.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 36s):
That’s fantastic, but listening is a lost art. And I mentioned it in the introduction. And as you mentioned, there’s this fast paced world of tech and emails and people don’t generally list that. I heard someone say once, you know, people listen to respond, not to really hear. And I find myself doing that ever since I heard that phrase, especially in medicine, there is a great book, famous book called How Doctors Think. And in that book, the author talks about exactly that, that while a patient is responding and were trained in thinking and algorithms yes or no. Yes, no. We might as well be computers and how, because we’re really not listening.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (8m 17s):
How many medical errors and problems that happen in misdiagnoses. So why do you think that, and is it getting worse? Why do you think that people are having more and more trouble listening?
Colin Smith (8m 27s):
Yeah. I think the point that you made and I was alluding to it earlier is that we were getting caught up on the screens and it’s easier to be someone we’re not, but maybe if you start to look underneath that, there’s a sense of, I’m not enough as I am. So the more we can curate my image in anticipation of this is what the recipient might want, Ah I’ve done that. Now, now I’m going to be liked more. I’m going to be accepted. I’m going to get more likes and all of those sorts of things that if I look at it the other side, and it’s interesting, you referred to a particular book, There’s a piece of research done where they interviewed or were watching doctors when they were receiving not a new patient necessary a new patient, but a new condition.
Colin Smith (9m 19s):
And what they found is that three out of four doctors interrupt the patient before they finished speaking. So they’ve gone through your algorithm. Yes. Tick, tick that the note, right? Like is the answer. And what they found is that those three or four interrupt the patient before they finished speaking on average it’s 18 seconds. And for me, I’ll have a sense that when that happens, I haven’t been to speak in and you were already starting to produce the prescription. This is why I get it. And I go, okay. And then I get to the door and I stopped. And I say, Oh, just one other thing. And I finish and the doc says come back here let me have that prescription, tears it up and then write a new one.
Colin Smith (10m 0s):
But I also think that they’re missing. And I think one of the things I’ve heard with doctors is they’re asked to really listen to your patients because they will tell you what’s really going on. But also the other bit is in that is how much confidence do I have in what the doctor’s given me to take? If he or she hasn’t listened to me well enough, I don’t feel heard. I don’t matter. I don’t feel valued. And that is for me as that spiral down, which is the last thing that doctors want. But when I talk about that, also say to people in the audience, are you an 18 second father, an 18 second manager, an 18 second leader and you can see people going.
Colin Smith (10m 45s):
Yeah, I am. So when people were coming to me with a problem, I listen to them for a short while I know the answer here it is, get it done.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 53s):
But so many people, what I do, my workshops, we do a little bit on conflict resolution, which I’d like to hear your opinion on also, but sometimes you’ll be dealing with the complaint. They’ll be an unhappy patient. They’ll be an unhappy customer. And we’ll do this little exercise. And I’ll say, what’s the patient really saying? So the person may be complaining in the hospital about the food or a routine procedure with no risks, or maybe not wanting to sign a consent form. And we’re going, why would this mother or this patient not want to say that in many words what did the patients really say? I just want a little control. I try to teach are in conflict resolution to not only listen to the words, but also listen to the non-verbal cues.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (11m 38s):
You know, this is an audio only podcast, but it’s very important that I’m seeing you right now on screen, because it’s really difficult to interact with somebody when you can’t see their facial expressions in 70 to 80% of the language is non verbal. So I guess there’s the, in there somewhere, but can you comment on that a, about the non-verbal and it may be just, let’s start off with a bang and just, how can I be a better listener?
Colin Smith (12m 4s):
I will answer that question. There was a bit, which you alluded to is a question just before, before that, in that, which is the nonverbal cues, and this has happened two or three times that during a conversation where we were just really exchanging ideas, views, helping each other, think better, things like that, but I’ve noticed the subtle shift in, or perhaps their voice, or perhaps the tone perhaps their facial expression. Maybe their eyes or something. And I’ve said, Oh, are you okay? And they have gone. Yeah, I’m fine. And they said, okay.
Colin Smith (12m 45s):
I just thought that might have been something that shifted then when they go, well, actually your right. Yeah. It’s something you said triggered something. Or when you were talking, it brought something up for me, which I find particularly upsetting. And when it happens in a one-to-one, you can let the conversation go to that place. If they want, if it’s in a smaller group, then it’s a little bit harder. But just noticing even over zoom, you can still notice these subtle things. So I would say from the point of view, being a better listener, I mean I think the first hurdle to get over is that most people think they’re good listeners when they are not, you know, they look at it and they go, Oh, I’ve got two ears what’s your problem?
Colin Smith (13m 28s):
But what’s the difference between hearing and listening. And I use a very simple thought, which is we hear it from, we listen to. So hearing his passive is about keeping us safe. Listening on the other hand, I have to intend to listen. If I wasn’t listening to the people I was referring to, I would not have noticed what happened because I noticed the shuttle shift. There were some things that happen and it could have been known as picking up visually. I could have picked it up a hearing or even just a sense that something wasn’t quite right. So once that’s happened, they say, Oh, okay.
Colin Smith (14m 8s):
So maybe I don’t listen very well. So we also, we interrupt a lot. In fact, probably far too much of a Nancy Cline with her amazing work all the time to think he would actually say that. Actually she says that interrupting is an assault on the other person. And when I get people to do a non Listening exercise where the speaker is sharing something that is important, then the listener starts with being interested and then gradually just drops off. The conversation, starts to look away their watch and it goes on like that and do it in fact to the disconnect and to ask people what that’s like.
Colin Smith (14m 49s):
And for the speaker we say, I start to think stupid. I didn’t get my thoughts. My thoughts started disappearing. I don’t understand it because I’m thinking, why would they stop listening to me? Why is he keeps looking at his watch? And why is he turned away from me? I think it’s my fault. Is it that I am not interesting. I don’t matter. My words are not important and all of these things, but it also, interestingly for the listener, they say it was really difficult to do. And this is an exercise was difficult to do because I was interested them. But I also thought it was rude. And I say, but we do this all the time. You know? So if I’m talking to you and my phone goes off and I got, Oh, you don’t mind do you.
Colin Smith (15m 33s):
And I picked my phone up. How would that work? If you did it in your Ted talk, you a phone rings and you’d pick it up and we start talking or you don’t mind, do you, okay, thanks people would, what is going on? So it was rude, but we do it. So learning not to interrupt as much as we possibly can. You know, there are going to be times where I got one minute, I need to get this sorted. I need an answer that slight different. But in the main, if we don’t, we also think at different speeds so I can talk it around a 120 150 words a minute. But you can process as a listener about three times as much, 450 words.
Colin Smith (16m 13s):
So there’s a gap. So how do I feel that gap? What usually happens? We get taken off somewhere else. I start thinking about what I’m going to go later. What about dinner? What are we going to get to the grocery store, et cetera, rather than focusing more on the person that is speaking. So what’s going on for them? How am I feeling what’s going on? Those sorts of things. But it’s also true the other way. But I also am thinking of 450 words or more of a minute, but I can only get a hundred and twenty-five words out. So the moment you give me the chance. So when you pause as you are doing so when I stop, because I’m thinking you are not interrupting me, you are not jumping on My, at the end of the reason that pause.
Colin Smith (16m 60s):
So my thinking continues. You might repeat by asking me the question again, or you might say, and what more, but the flow of my answer keeps coming up. And in that pause in my thinking, I get the chance for the second wave of thinking to come through. And the third wave of thinking, and you can ask that and what more questions? Five, six, seven times. There are only often they say, you know, I think you’ve asked it twice. So I’m settling. I’m thinking better. The quality of it is Improving. Also the relationship is changing too I’m starting to like you more, I’m starting to trust you more. I’m feeling more comfortable with you.
Colin Smith (17m 40s):
I’m willing to open up to you a little bit more as a patient. This is something that I probably wouldn’t say it to you normally, because I’m not sure it’s important, but what I’ve noticed is this and this and you think, Oh my goodness, how valuable was that piece of information for me or in a sales role when you do it? And the customer said, I don’t normally tell people, but this is going on in the company. And it’s really worrying me. But for me, there seems to be some disagreement within the board members. And I am beginning to feel more and more isolated. So we share more with each other and we can hear them all.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (18m 21s):
You were talking about people not paying attention and going on their phones and you have two children. I have three adult children. And in order to get to be an adult, they have to go through their teenage years. And I remember many conversations where speaking to my kids could be about anything in right in the middle of the sentence, one or the teenagers do they picked the phone up, then they start texting. Yep. And what is astonishing to this generation? And I’m not putting them down at all. It’s just different. Is that when I would call them out on it, they had no idea why that would be so insulting to me. And I would say to my child, Dad’s talking to you, you were having a conversation and you’re in the phone and they go, Oh yeah, but I’m listening Dad.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (19m 3s):
And so we have a lot of conversations about eye contact. Cause I think that’s preparing them for business. And I think, and I like you to comment on that. But when you’re making eye contact with someone it’s awfully hard for me, I use that as a way to stop you from looking down. Because if I’m looking straight into your eyes while you’re listening, or while I’m speaking, you feel a little, especially rude If you break the eye contact no?
Colin Smith (19m 28s):
To me, I have a, a phrase “going away to think”, Oh, so this is me going in a way to think. And if I come back to you and you’re looking somewhere else or at your watch, it interrupts my thinking, why is he doing that? And it’s not a staring contest. Yeah. It’s sort of light. But then it’s a knowing that your there with them. And I’ve always to get a sense that were moving more from a doing to society, to being with society. I’m not at you, I’m with you.
Colin Smith (20m 11s):
And you imagine that in a medical environment, you know? So when you are arriving to your patient, they know that you’re going to be with them. It feels like you’re with me not doing to me and you absolutely. Right. I believe With the bureaucracy and the paperwork they have to do, I bet it can feel like that. So it was going to ask you a question relating to what you were saying with your children when they pick up the phone or someone is doing something similar while you were talking to them, how does that feel for you at that moment? If you can just put just self into that, what was that like for you?
Colin Smith (20m 51s):
What does it feel like?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 53s):
Well, if I believe it, it makes me feel like I don’t matter that what I’m saying is not important in that I can’t be that interesting If half way through my sentence, you decided to answer a tweet and you know, sometimes my kids, you know what, we’ll be having a discussion about politics or history. And sometimes they’ll go right to their phone. And what I realized in many instances, they’re actually fact checking,
Colin Smith (21m 19s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 19s):
My wife brought it out. Cause my youngest one is very bright and he they’re all bright, but he is really into history and say something and he’ll go right to this phone. And my wife brought it up. She said that he was back checking you, which I guess it was fine. But if you’re going to do that, and I say this to the doctors all the time multi-tasking, as we know is a myth, there is a book called the myth of multitasking, which says that your brain can’t really do two things at one time. But sometimes you as a physician or maybe you have to look something up, maybe you are having a meeting or a business meeting and something comes up and you need to check something I think is important to say to your patient, I’m just going to look up your lab right now. ’cause we assume that a patient thinks that he knows that’s what we were doing with the patient might think, you know, he was looking for a tee time.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 9s):
So it’s all about communication. And if you can’t listen, then that you certainly can’t communicate in your right about the doctor’s interrupting. It’s that algorithm. And I’m not sure how to get away from that because the medical schools are designed right now to still teach that, you know, do you have pain in your arm? Yes or no. They moved out in yes or no. It doesn’t leave any room for our narrative. And we know that when there is a narrative medical errors go down, malpractice goes down because you are listening. And you know, as you said, a lot of times people do leave the doctor’s office feeling that their questions aren’t answered. We did a, an internet survey about two years ago.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 50s):
I think it was about 300 patients that we surveyed in 73% of them said that they frequently left the doctor’s office, feeling rushed without their questions answered. Frequently. And so that’s a huge, and you know, and sometimes it’s out of a misguided, respect my father and I’ll give him a list of things to do. And he goes to see as physicians to ask him about your blood pressure, ask him about your cholesterol after he is done, I’ll call him him. But what did the doctors say? Did you ask them this? No. You know, he seemed rushed. I didn’t want to bother him. So it’s about taking control of your own healthcare and, and in the boardroom right now, I think we have a listening crisis.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (23m 31s):
I’m looking at the politics on the United States and in the UK and everywhere else. And no one is listening to each of us. If you don’t agree with me, you’re automatically wrong. And it, is it a generation thing? Is that, what do you think it’s getting worse or better? I think I asked you this already, but if it’s getting worse, why do you think that it is? Is it the technology?
Colin Smith (23m 53s):
My gut feeling is it, it is more about technology. I think we have rushed. We are trying to do more than we can. So we were stressed with probably more self-serving than we ever used to be. There is less respectful for each other. We’re all fighting our own fight. And the downside is, you know, we are seeing things that are sort of a societal level about mental health, suicide, loneliness, and things like this. And it’s kind of forcing us down that road of, I will look after myself, but if I can do that, that’ll be enough. That’s all I got. The capacity for. It is concerning it. I genuinely think that there is a crisis. You just get back to when you answered a question, I posed about how it felt to a grown man who are intelligent, man, you’re a professional man.
Colin Smith (24m 40s):
And it still was like that for you. And Oprah was saying that when she has people that she interviews and it could be a presidents, it could be mom and dads, people in prison. These sorts of things, she said pretty much every single one of them when we finished, leans over and said, is that okay? Is that all right? Whatever it is, we all need that reassurance that we matter. And so her intention when she’s interviewing people is to validate them. And if all doctors did, If or managers did, was to validate the patient, that their team members, their colleagues, these little things that if we did them a little bit, would make a big difference.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 26s):
Oh, absolutely. It sounds simple, but not as easy. I wish he can come down to the Washington DC in and fix this. Last time we spoke, you mentioned something called survive, dive and thrive. Can you expand on that and tell us what that is all about?
Colin Smith (25m 42s):
Well, thank you. Yes, its the way I’ve used three words to describe the three different dimensions of the work that I do. And the first one is referred to as a survive and it is, I need to be heard. So what I’m here for now with you is to listen fully empathically, actively deeply to you, to not judge, to see you as an equal, to not interrupt, to give you that space so that you feel heard, you feel validated. As we said earlier, the second one, which is about what I call dive is what we found is that the quality of my listening can increase the quality in depth of your thinking.
Colin Smith (26m 27s):
All too often, we give people the answer, really not always, not all the time. So what do you think ’cause even an answer to that question in your respecting them. I want to know what your answer is. I’m interested in the answer because your answer matters. You know? So it might be that when the doctor’s ask them a question or my thoughts could be this, or what do you think? They actually know It doesn’t feel right for me for whatever reason. And sometimes when we’re asking these questions, encourage it to another level of thinking. And we talked about the ways of thinking.
Colin Smith (27m 8s):
And so the quality of my listening increases the quality of your thinking. And then the third, which is what I call Thrive is more about teaching people, the power of listening and some say it’s a super power. And there has been examples of two in particular. One is that you don’t fix it. And I was coaching a young dad and interestingly, so I’m not sure if it’s an age thing, probably in his early twenties, I got a girlfriend lived with her and the conclusion of he came from it at the end of one of our session’s was that for the next two weeks between now the next one is that I’m going to do everything that I can to not fix the problem. So are not offering a fixed or a solution.
Colin Smith (27m 49s):
And he wrote me about three days later, said, I can’t tell you how different the relationship is now. And he said, it does genuinely feel like a super power and all that I’ve done Is not try and fix. I’ve just listened to. And the last time he said, his girlfriend turned, ran to him. So thank you for listening. And that’s amazing. And then the second one, this has happened in a series of workshops that I’m running with different groups and it’s called the three second pause. So wait three seconds after the person has finished speaking. Not all the time, because it can be a bit contrived, but just keep doing it and notice what happens if they keep talking, they tell you more and they’re loving it.
Colin Smith (28m 34s):
Absolutely loving it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (28m 35s):
I love what you said about what do you think again, just relating that back to what I do. We know that one of the biggest problems with medicine is that it requires trust between a doctor and a patient. I’ve always thought now that we have Google and there’s a lot of misinformation out there that if you don’t and this has been proven, if you don’t trust your doctor, you’re unlikely to finish your medicine. You’re unlikely to follow up. And so trust is really important. And if I said Colin, I think it’s your hamstring. What do you think? And you’re thinking, there’s no way that it’s my hamstring. It’s my back. Then when I prescribe something for your hamstring, you’re going to leave there going, Dr.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 19s):
Orsini is crazy. I don’t trust him. He’s not going to take it. So I think that’s fantastic advice for any person who is a doctor or a nurse out there in health care, ask them what they think. Because if there are too polite to tell you, I think you’re wrong, then they’re just going to leave there and they’re not going to listen to you anyway. And then medicine breaks down. So medicine and I believe this with all my heart and soul, but medicine and life is all about trust. If I don’t trust you, if were on the board together right in business and you and I don’t trust each other we’re not going very far are we?
Colin Smith (29m 57s):
Totally. So as you listen more to the level of trust goes up as long as your intention is good. So if it was a doctor or as a board member, right, okay. I’m learning this listening malarkey to manipulate people into believing me. Rest assured people will pick up your intention and then it got, are you saying all the right things? But if it doesn’t feel right, there’s something else. There’s a hidden agenda.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 28s):
Well, and I think about the boardroom, I think about a bunch of men and women interrupting each other, arguing, giving their opinions, not listening. And in many cases, they’re the man or a woman who’s sitting in the corner and not saying anything. I, I feel like that’s you. And then in the end, if someone says Colin, you’ve been awfully quiet, what do you think? And then lets out three or four sentences. And everybody goes, wow, he’s really smart. When probably you might not be the smartest person in the room. You were just the only one listening and its so important.
Colin Smith (31m 1s):
But all too often, the person doesn’t get asked. They are not invited into the conversation at the beginning. So Nancy Kline again, talks about the circle about inviting everyone into the conversation at the start, sharing something that’s valuable for them or they’ve done well or on their project or something that personally it has happened, but it gives everyone a chance to speak. And now we’re all in, in the conversation and recognizing that there is no inequality just because you speak more. It doesn’t mean you have a voice has more authority, more power, et cetera. So giving everyone the chance and also the chance that they can pass.
Colin Smith (31m 42s):
If I’ve got nothing to say on this subject, I can pass. But otherwise I am in the round with it. And then
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 50s):
I love that. One of my first episodes interviews was with someone called that Kathy Caprino. Okay. And she was on the first and Cathy as a coach and an executive coach for women and teaching them how to empower themselves. She’s an incredible person. She’s a Forbes writer, really, very impressive. And, and she talked to you about that, that many women in the executive boardroom are quiet. There are really good listeners, but many of them leave without being called on and never imparting their wisdom on the group. And so Kathy helps them with the process of how to listen, give your statement and be heard without being offensive. And, and so you, you were discussing sometimes people don’t ever a call on you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 31s):
It brought to mind Kathy’s great interview inside. It definitely recommend that you think it was like one of our first or second interviews. Wow. This has been really informational, but also inspirational. You’re not going to get out of here though without the toughest question that I ask, everyone gets this question. What is the most difficult conversation that you’ve had to take part in? And can you give us some advice on how you navigated through that conversation in your respect, that would be by listening and responding to it and you can se type of conversation or you can be specific.
Colin Smith (33m 4s):
Yeah, yeah. I like the question. It would be very easy for me to just come up with an answer, but I’ve let that sit, you know, because I was thinking about it, the answer, and then I thought, do you know, all the conversations can be difficult. So if you’re someone who’s not very good socially, even just go into a pub and having a conversation is difficult. So I thought, so what is it that makes conversations difficult or uncomfortable? And what I came to was this idea that it doesn’t feel safe. So safety is a really important element. And part of some of the workshops I’m running, I ask them about psychological safety and there’s a whole raft of work has been done on psychological safety.
Colin Smith (33m 53s):
And part of it is one or two things I can do to make the environment I’m in or the space I’m in or the conversation I’m in a much safer or a little bit safer, such the deeply encourage or the other person to speak. And a simple one might be when the CEO comes in or perhaps a senior physician and says, we got this particular problem. This is what I think. What do you think? Now the majority of them will go, Oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea rather than saying we got this real problem. I am curious to know what you people think because good CEO is good Physicians will acknowledge an answer.
Colin Smith (34m 34s):
Or if they decide that we listened to everyone in the answer they pick was the one that they were coming with. I don’t need to have that as my answer. I can let them have that as their answer. And then we go in with Joe’s answer. So the little things that we can do and the heart of it for me is about listening. So the more we listen, the more trust the safe for the environment is obviously in this, that it’s got to be good intention, that the more trust there is, the safer it is. The more likely is that the conversations are going to get better. So if I’ve got some things I wanted to say to you and it doesn’t feel safe, I’m not going to say to them, if you’re encouraging me, you or it’s becoming more and more of a safe environment for me to do that.
Colin Smith (35m 15s):
And then I might say, you know, Tony, there’s a couple of things I’d like to pick up with you and you go, what’s that then? So immediately I’m trying to backtrack. Now we’ve got two things. Now they need to tell you, and how am I going to mitigate what I say in a way that you’ll find that acceptable. But if I start to share it, you don’t interrupt. You see, Oh my gosh, that I hadn’t realized. I’d tell me I’m now interested when we going, really thank you for that. That has been very helpful. And even just those few things might encourage me to tell you some more or next time I can tell you some more or when I speak to someone else and they say, we’ve been asked to come and see him, Tony, and then I’ll get it.
Colin Smith (36m 4s):
Don’t worry he will listen. Thank you so much. The quality of my thinking improves because I’m relaxed and you know, all of the science behind it, the biology behind and now thinking because I am relaxed. So it’s much easier. So I can think because it’s not stressed. I am not worried that if I say something wrong, I could be fired. How many times in organizations we say, we’ve got no blame culture. And yet at the moment that somebody steps up or steps out, we were not the heads-up, what are you doing that again? And other people go, well, why would it be doing that for myself? And then we ended up with the, the Enron situations, the, the challenger situation, the, the, the Hubble telescope, all of these different things, because people were frightened to speak up and speak out.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (36m 50s):
So I love that, you know, it’s about safety and how many CEOs, it seems like every CEO goes, I have an open door policy. You, but you know, that’s not true. That door is open, but they don’t walk through it, but there are more and more companies. We’ve had Siobhan McHale on, Claude Silver, James Orsini talks about changes in culture, in the boardroom and in the business. And I think that there is a movement towards not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. And I’m optimistic about that in an, I think that our young people, although sometimes they have a reputation that may or may not be good. They are really driving this culture change and they are stepping up and saying, I don’t want to be treated like that again.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 32s):
I would add to that whole culture of safety. There’s a concept in my book that I call it hard to fire your best friend. And it’s something that my mother used to tell me. And what it means is that if you are relatable person, if you really want people to feel safe and be a regular guy, be a regular girl, the CEO who walks in the room, or the physician who is in charge of walks into the room and ask somebody about their children or talks about the baseball game last night, there are real people and, and you feel safe immediately. So I love that advice and this has been nothing but advice. Colin, this has been great. And I promised my audience every week that they’ll be inspired and you’ve done that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (38m 15s):
And you have certainly really helped us with our communication skills. I want to thank you for your time. I want to thank you for being so gracious and sharing all your wisdom with us. This has been really great.
Colin Smith (38m 26s):
Thank you. I really enjoyed my time with you and thank you for the questions and for making me feel safe and welcome.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (38m 35s):
I hope we can keep in touch and be friends. If you enjoyed this podcast episode, please go ahead, hit follow Apple now went from subscribe to follow, but we are also available on different podcasts platforms, such as Spotify, Amazon, and Google play. If you want more information about the Orsini Way and what we do, you can visit my website at the Orsini Way.com. Colin, how do people get in touch with you? What’s the best way?
Colin Smith (39m 3s):
The best is the website at Dexterity Solutions all one word Dexterity Solutions.Co.uk, right?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 6s):
And I think if you are a business that or anyone who really wants to use Colin’s services, I would highly recommend them. This has been one of the best 45 minutes of learning that we’ve had. Thanks again, Colin. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Colin Smith (39m 23s):
You too. Take care.
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