Book Review - September 2019

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

Book by Mark Goulston

Review by Derik Borden

Just Listen is a great read for anyone who wants to improve their listening skills and provides strategies to use for productive communication. It’s not just about how you listen but about how you react to what others say that can impact a conversation. The book also provides strategies on persuasion and ways to change negative people into assets.

The first section of the book explains the science behind how the brain works and the parts of the that affect our thoughts. Understanding how the brain works helps to realize why we sometimes react automatically in certain situations. This foundation is important to understanding that you can change your reaction just by understanding and accepting it as an automatic process in our brain.

The second section of the book is about the nine core rules of listening that you can use to get through to anyone. A big part of listening is learning to keep your reaction under control and moving quickly through your emotional response, re-centering and re-focusing yourself, to being ok. Another part of listening is to “stop trying to be interesting, [and] be interested instead”. This may be hard for some people because we all want to sound interesting but it’s more important to show interest in the other person which will result in them being just as interested in you.

The third section of the book is about achieving buy-in and getting through to difficult people. This is another important section because often as leaders we engage in difficult conversations or persuade others to adopt our ideas. One interesting strategy in this section is the power of “Hmmm….”. This is a strategy that employs a small response of “hmmm” to get someone to add more information or details when they otherwise were not open to sharing.

The final section provides strategies to overcome challenging situations. The author discusses seven common challenging situations and provides fast ways to overcome them. For instance, being a new leader in an organization can be a challenge because no one knows you or have any trust in your ability as a leader. The author talks about this challenge and how it’s important to first create visibility by getting to know others in the organization. You can then start to make changes and demonstrate your credibility because you built relationships up front and can more easily create buy-in for your ideas.

You can learn more about the author, Mark Goulston, by visiting his website at

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