Book Review: Just Listen

Author: Mark Goulston

Review by: Sharon McDonnell

Published: AMACOM, New York, NY; 2011; 221 pages [Source: this was one of the books given away at STC’s Summit 2015 in Columbus, OH]just-listen-small

Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist, business advisor and coach, and a speaker. He presents techniques in the book that he has used through the years in his practice, in hostage negotiations, in a home with teenagers, or when advising businesses.

I always look at the synopsis and reviews in a book before deciding to buy/read it. I usually also look at the table of contents to see if the topics are of interest.

This book has the following chapters:

    • Who’s Holding You Hostage?
    • A Little Science: How the Brain Goes from “No” to “Yes”
    • Move Yourself from “Oh F#@& to OK”Rewire Yourself to Listen
    • Make the Other Person Feel Felt
    • Be More Interested Than Interesting
    • Make People Feel Valuable
    • Help People to Exhale Emotionally and Mentally
    • Check Your Dissonance at the Door
    • When All Seems Lost—Bare Your Neck
    • Steer Clear of Toxic People
    • The Impossibility Question
    • The Magic Paradox
    • The Empathy Jolt
    • The Reverse Play, Empathy Jolt #2
    • “Do You Really Believe That?”
    • The Power of “Hmmm. . . .
    • The Stipulation Gambit
    • From Transaction to Transformation
    • Side by Side
    • Fill in the Blanks
    • Take It All the Way to “No”
    • The Power Thank You and Power Apology
    • The Team from Hell
    • Climbing the Ladder
    • The Narcissist at the Table
    • Stranger in Town
    • The Human Explosion
    • Getting Through to Yourself
    • Six Degrees of Separation


The chapters are further broken down into subtopics. Each subtopic is usually pretty short and most include an example or scenario where this technique proved to be useful. Following the example is a “Usable Insight” section that boils down the subtopics into one sentence. Lastly, there is a section called “Action Step” that encourages you to try the technique in this subtopic in some situation that you are dealing with.

The book was easy, fast reading, but also very usable. I could identify many situations where my response was probably more harmful than helpful. But with these techniques, I can handle team members or family members much more effectively.