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Brian Gorman – On Listening, and Silence | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Brian Gorman | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

Brian and Kevin have another fascinating conversation today, this time on the nature of listening. Beginning with Oscar Trimboli’s work on How To Listen, the discussion moves through the various levels of listening, and the role that silence plays in our understanding.

They also talk about the ins and outs of modern communication and the distinctions between physical presence and “digital” presence.

Toward the end of the episode, Brian even runs Kevin through a coaching exercise that explores how he listens to himself, and what that means in how he communicates and connects. It gets a little profound!

To reacquaint you with Brian, he’s been in and around the development/coaching fields for 5+ decades with no signs of stopping. He’s lived all around the country and coaches all types of people at any stage in their personal and professional development – high schoolers to retirees and everyone in between.

He’s an ICF-certified coach whose clients are seeking transformational change in their personal and/or professional lives.

Using a model based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, he applies his decades of work in change management and knowledge of neuroscience to guide his clients into their desired future.

To learn more about Brian:

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Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaching podcasts are conversations with coaches. I used to go to call it coffee with coaches and it took me months stumbling over that maybe I’ll change it to conversations, coaching conversations anyway. conversate conversations with coffee, conversations with coffee with coaches. Clearly, I’ve already had a conversation with coffee today. But I’m about to have another one with Brian Gorman, who’s a coach I’ve talked with before, who I had great delight in chatting with previously. And we’ve already started a very interesting conversation that we’re basically just gonna let you in on. But before we restart that conversation, let me reintroduce you to Brian. Brian has been in and around the developmental coaching fields for five plus decades with really no signs of stopping. He’s lived all around the country, and coaches all types of people at any stage in their personal and professional development high schoolers to retirees, everyone in between. He’s an ICF certified coach whose clients are seeking transformational change in their personal and or professional lives. Using a model based on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, he applies his decades of work in change management, and his knowledge of neuroscience to guide his clients into their desired future. Brian, it’s great to have you back. It’s good to see you. It’s good to hear you.

Brian Gorman 1:15
It’s great to be here again, Kevin.

Kevin Stafford 1:17
So we were just kind of like taking your temperature on on 2023. And how it’s been going since we last talked, which I believe was last fall, I forget the exact dates because you know, time is a flat circle, yada, yada, yada. But I’m just kind of asking you how things were going. And unsurprisingly, we immediately found ourselves in what I thought was a very interesting conversation. And so I just wanted to start, you know, hit record and get this get this on the mic. So we started talking about, in particular, kind of started with a podcast that you had recently done, where someone was talking about the nature of listening, and how we listen, we started to go some very interesting places from there. But if you could, like start his backup with that, and in particular, I loved I loved the details, the data, the numbers, really, really expanded my awareness. So let’s start there.

Brian Gorman 2:01
So my podcast guest was Oscar Trimboli. And Oscar is the author of How to listen, discover the hidden key to better communication. And both in the book and in my conversation with him, he introduces three numbers 125 409 100 Our minds can process about 900 words a minute of that 900. When someone else is speaking, we can hear 400 words a minute. And that really helps me helped me in particular understand why I can accelerate the speed on podcasts and listen to them at even twice the rate. Because the speaking rate, the English speaking rate in the workplace is only about 125 words a minute. So I’m speaking 125 words of the 900 words that are going through my brain every minute. Or as Oscar said, in the first minute that somebody’s talking, they’re only sharing 14% of the thoughts that they have. I let

Kevin Stafford 3:35
my first reaction when you when you first were sharing this with me was oh, yeah, I I find myself in conversations talking about listening and using analogies like bandwidth and, and just all the different like the all the different ways we talk about being a good listener. And but I just love the fact that like, you know what, let’s just crunch the numbers. Let’s just talk about what happens, what we’re capable of. And what’s the gap in there? Like what can we What’s that getting filled with what’s what’s taking up that space. And it’s, I found it immediately, like inspirational, quite frankly, to be like, oh, there’s a it’s one of those things, it’s almost confirmatory, where it’s like they’re I, I know we’re capable of being fantastic listeners, and consuming and processing just tremendous amounts of information in a relatively short amount of time. Most of us are bad at it or not, not nearly as good as we could be. And I as a as an avid podcast listener I’ve been, I vary the speeds on my podcasts. I’ve been doing it quite a while I listen to stuff up to 2x if it’s something a little more, depending on what I’m consuming, I’ll like lower it down because I want to sit with it. I want to give it the space, you know, but I’ve always been fascinated by by my mind’s capacity to listen to things and still like really get most like most of all information at that rapid rate. But I hadn’t really sat with the implications of that of that data. It’s, it’s it’s very fascinating, I just love thinking about all the things that that implies.

Brian Gorman 5:04
For me, one of the important messages is the importance of being comfortable with silence. Because if I’m processing 900 words, and I can only get 120 of them 25 of them out in a minute. Instead of me just starting to ramble around and talk about anything and see where it goes, and then trying to put it together for you. If I can sit in silence, or if I can let you my clients sit in silence, until you’re ready to share exactly what the essence is, of what’s going on in your mind. It makes for a much richer content.

Kevin Stafford 5:51
I agree so much. And I say that in the podcast hosts seat right now. There’s always a silence. Silence is difficult in the best of circumstances, I think. And it’s a it’s a muscle that that celebrates being exercised, I have found. And I think it has application in this context, as we as we speak for a podcast as we talk together. And I can feel myself moving into I can feel myself slowing down to match your rates to match your pace. Because I want to have the most connected conversation I can have with you. And I’m feeling the silence has begun to creep into the space in my words, and I’m feeling compelled competing urges to let a silent sit. And then also to fill it as a host to be listening for silences that are prompting response, but also to be responsive to silences that wish to stand on their own. It’s interesting, I’m feeling interesting things right now that I’m gonna have to sit and reflect on a little bit after this episode. This is exactly why I wanted to talk about this with you because it’s I find it so fascinating how we move together.

Brian Gorman 7:01
So Kevin, you’re leading right into Oscars description of five levels of listening. The first is listening to yourself. So you were just describing all of those things that you were processing. That if you’re still processing them now, getting in the way of you listening to me. So being conscious of listening to yourself, allows us to come back to the conversation more quickly, when we get distracted, because we are going to get distracted, our thoughts are going to take us somewhere else, the siren out in the street is going to take us somewhere else the whatever it is, is going to take us somewhere else. Being conscious of where your head is at is really the first level of listening. It’s why when I’m working with clients, or even if I’m going into a meeting, not just the coaching, I really try to spend a few minutes centering and getting myself fully present out of whatever the emotion, the drama, the challenges, the great feelings I had in my last space of time before that meeting or that coaching session. So the first is listening to yourself. The second is listening to the content. And that’s really where most people when they talk about active listening, go. What’s actually being said, what are the words? What is the content about. But then Oscar talks about the third level, which is listen for the context. So as one example, I’m going to walk through an example that I used in a group coaching session not too long ago. I had a volunteer I asked the the volunteer or I could do this with you, Kevin.

Kevin Stafford 9:17
You know what, weirdly enough that that sounds great. I actually had a coach take me through an exercise in an earlier podcast today spontaneously and so I have to say yes to it. This is clearly the theme of the day is let’s let’s run Kevin through his paces. So yeah.

Brian Gorman 9:31
Okay, Kevin. What brings you joy

Kevin Stafford 9:40
family and that includes my animals. I have. We have three cats I love dearly and I love spending time with them with my family.

Brian Gorman 9:50
Okay, thank you. So, I’m hearing family brings you joy. Yes. That’s the content that you shared with me. You sat and you pause and you reflect before you answered the question almost looked like you were visualizing something

Kevin Stafford 10:13
I was I was doing so this is a habit that I’ve tried to grow in myself is to reflect within myself in real time, without stopping or stalling so that I can give closer to genuine and full answers to questions that aren’t just already floating on the surface of my brain, like, you know, like lily pads on on a pond. And so like, that’s what brings you joy. That question immediately sparked me to hold it for just a beat, whatever a beat means, whatever a moment might mean in this context, because I wanted to let it bounce around inside me and then see what came up naturally. And so what came up the first thing that came up naturally, that actually formulated properly in my head and my heart wherever so far is that resides in separate places, they’re the same place really is was family. And it was both my partner and and her, her parents who I get to spend a lot of time with, they live very close by. And our shared animals, our cats, their dogs. It also kind of came with us sort of missing of other animals, like I haven’t gotten to be around horses in a while. And I love horses. I have there are neighborhood cats that I love that like I have regular like I’m like an old man, I have regular walks that I take on a daily basis. And there are certain houses or certain neighborhoods where there’s some outdoor cats that are just very affectionate. And when they see me, they’ll start talking and they’ll come up to me almost like almost like dogs. And I know very weird way but in a way that makes total sense. They’re a part of my family too. So yeah, when I, when I hesitated, I was less. I was less trying to pick out words, I was just kind of wait, I was letting the answer come up from within me. If that makes sense.

Brian Gorman 12:09
It does and vow were listening to the context and listening to what was unsaid. And so putting all of that together. The short answer of my family, including my cats that I love to spend time with really was just the surface of a relationship you have with your partner with your with her family with not just your pets, but her pets and with neighborhood pets. And so what I’m actually hearing is what brings you joy is sharing love with other living beings. Connection. That’s the meaning that’s the full meaning. There you go. Nice.

Kevin Stafford 13:01
See, it’s like it’s I’m always I’m always rewarded when I allow myself to be genuine. Like this answer genuinely, it’s like, it might not be the coolest answer to be like, I love my cats. I mean, obviously it was a bigger than that, but I was just like, just let the truth come up and share it and which also supports the conclusion that you drew which is very, very accurate that is it is the thing maybe the thing that brings me the most joy or is the center of all my joy is that just connection with other other living beings

Brian Gorman 13:36
in a loving way,

Kevin Stafford 13:37
in a loving way. Yeah, that that resonates. Yeah, that’s the word that resonates with me like I feel I feel a harmonious echo in me whenever I whenever I think about that Oracle hold that inside myself. I’m like, yep, feels I feel filled up by it.

Brian Gorman 13:54
So we were talking before the podcast before he hit record about a coach who had to learn a whole new way of presence when moving from telephone coaching to video coaching and what I was sharing with you is this way of listening has really shifted my presence in my coaching on zoom

Kevin Stafford 14:28
in in what ways do you think has it shifted if it’s describable

Brian Gorman 14:36
unprecedented at a deeper level. I mean, I you know, I mentioned earlier, I do centering breath work to be present. And for me that’s head heart got to really be centered to be all of me there.

But by being able to listen more deeply It allows me to go more deeply with my clients.

Kevin Stafford 15:08
Yeah, I feel that I definitely feel that

thinking also about my own experiences with, with this video digital space that we found ourselves in, in the the ways in which I know that I have and a lot of the coaches I’ve talked to have worked diligently on using the tools that we have at our disposal. So for example, sticking with the use of video and with Zoom, getting more practiced at emoting in ways that people can pick up on, for example, I thought a lot early on about the important role of body language, and interpersonal interaction, and also the stuff that that I don’t really know a whole lot about scientifically, like pheromonal exchange, and like the stuff that just passes between two human beings are two living entities when they’re in the same space together, they’re present, physically. And while zoom has tremendously expanded our capacity to literally witnessed each other, see each other and express and connect, it has its obvious, obvious limitations as well. This podcast, for example, we typically only published the audio, and you know it because it makes people a little more comfortable, also makes the file sizes way smaller, but it’s a totally different consideration. But I always like to keep the camera on if the guest feels comfortable, because I know. And it’s for dates for two equally important reasons. I like to be able to see who I’m talking to. And even though you can’t see me making I’m looking at you, when I talk actually move, I move your your zoom window up close to my camera, so that you can at least you can feel at least something close to the impression of eye contact, so that I can communicate that intention, and I can see you and see your facial expressions and the way you’re moving. And also so that you could see me. And so that because I like to try to be as expressive as possible, as an expression of availability. So that like when I’m like, you can kind of see my hands popping up into the screen when I’m talking. Or when I shift back on my feet, or like I roll my shoulders or take a deep breath, or when you see my face get bigger, because I’m leaning forward, I like to be able to show that. Because while it’s no replacement, for for the kind of interpersonal interaction that can happen in the same room and you’re in the same space, I want to I want to build as many bridges as possible, or at least open up as many available connections as as possible. And I’ve been fascinated by the development of these of these tools that mean, new tools, same as the old tools, it’s still a lot of the same foundational concepts of just connecting with people, and that it very much includes listening, which is another interesting aspect of this where it’s the pauses, you know, it’s one thing I like about having you on Zoom is that I could see you listening, I can see I can see sometimes like if a guest is ready to speak, or if I’ve said something that has sparked them, I could see it on their face. And I can wrap up whatever the heck it is I’m saying because I want to hear what they have to say. And I just I I love this dance. I love the dance of it, you know, and it’s just, it’s just new tools. It’s I’m actually kind of excited to see what comes next. Even as I’m grateful for what we’ve been given when it comes to something like, you know, the the way that we’re able to connect from, you know, across the country, in real time in a way that’s, I gotta say had been pretty meaningful. For me like this, this particular conversation that’s been very, it’s particularly meaningful I’ve been I’ve got some things to like to sit with and think about. And so I think I want to go ahead and thank you for that right now. I’ll probably think you again here in a minute. But this has been this has been profound is of where that gets tossed around a lot. But I this felt profound to me. So thank you for that.

Brian Gorman 18:56
Thank you. As I think we we talked about earlier, part of my personal purpose at this point in my life is to do everything I can to share what I’ve learned with others. So this has been a gift for me as well.

Kevin Stafford 19:17
i Okay, I just I just my hosting duties just kicked in. And I looked up at the Zoom clock, and we’ve definitely, we’ve had a full conversation in a teacup that was that was a minute and that was that was a day and that was everything in between this is I’m gonna just have to have you back on again and have us have a conversation like this i and this this is the third leg that I kind of forgot to I forgot to mention, but it’s because it’s like sort of the foundation of why I like to do this. It is not just about me connecting with you and you connecting with me and what’s passing between us. It’s about the vulnerability and availability to the people who get to listen to this play. It’s why I really I love just hitting record because obviously we were having we were already having this conversation from the moment we entered the Zoom Room we just did started, you know, connecting and talking like we do. But just that act of hitting record is a decision to you know, what if there’s one person who might hear this, and themselves resonate with what we’re talking about, be inspired to seek out coaching or just to reflect on their own listening or reflect on themselves and the way they move through the world. I mean, I’m gonna throw another word out there that gets thrown out there a lot. I love that. I love that and it’s why I love what I do with this podcast and what I love what I get to participate in and be a part of, so. Yeah, thanks for thanks for participating in that love with me today. And I’m, I’m we’re gonna do this again. I’m gonna I’m gonna bother you again to come back on to have another conversation like this. I’m ready. I have I get the feeling that you’re almost always ready. I appreciate that about you. Well, Brian, this is I guess you could actually get us both out of here. One more time. I thank you. I’m grateful for I’m grateful for you existing in the world that you do what you do out there brings me joy and peace. And I’m very grateful that I get to share a little bit of time with you every once in a while. It’s it’s pretty special. So yeah, there were two for two in conversations. And I’m I’m quite frankly, I’m looking forward to selfishly many, many more.

Brian Gorman 21:18
I have to Kevin, thank you so much for this opportunity.

Kevin Stafford 21:22
And to those of you listening. I hope. I hope this helps. I hope this hit you where you need to be hit and I hope this holds you where you need to be held. And in the meantime, I will be so grateful to get to talk to you once again, in the not too distant future. Thank you

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