Listening Skills with Lyn Lindbergh

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today we have Lyn Lindbergh. Lyn, welcome.

Thanks, Tom, nice to be here.

It’s nice to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?

Sure. I’m Lyn Lindbergh and I founded a little, tiny company called and it’s really focused on teaching the very basics of how to listen, all the things we think we already know, but really have a hard time practising and so we help you get there.

Well, I think this is perhaps a skill – and you can correct me if I’m wrong – but it’s a skill which people seldom have, so it’s quite rare to have a good listener. Would you say that’s accurate?

Yes, I would say people who are good listeners are only good listeners when they seek out to be a good listener or if they’re raised in a home that was a bunch of good listeners. I mean I was one of those just really unique kids where I grew up in a home with my parents – my mom especially – were really, really good listeners. And I did not know that that was unusual. I did not know that most people weren’t raised that way. And so when I got into my twenties and, you know, in the real world, I was so frustrated by how people would not listen and talk over each other. And part of it was because when you don’t have that balance, then you don’t feel like you have your own voice and everyone wants to have their own voice and be heard, but also because I realised in my forties that because I was a listener, it was incredibly powerful and I learned so much about people that you know, I didn’t know that people shared things with me that they didn’t share with anybody else simply because I was a listener until one day I was hanging out with my now husband and he said, oh my gosh, people tell you things, you know, the waitress, the clerk at the grocery store, like everybody, he’s like, this is really weird. And I was like, what do you mean? Doesn’t everybody in the world having these kind of conversations? And he’s like, uh, no, I never heard a waitress tell me all about how she’s going through divorce and looking for a new home before. Like never, you know, and we can talk a little bit more to about how in business listening is incredibly powerful too. Yeah. So no, people really – it’s hard, you have to – it’s a skill, you have to practise the skill I have to practise every day.

So for those that perhaps are unaware about the benefits, what’s the outcome for someone who, let’s say they spend time and effort learning to be a better at this now, what would that give them?

You know, it would give them this great world of being able to see more around them. They would have more empathy for the people around them, They would have closer connections with friends and this isn’t listening in that concept of you know, never say anything yourself and let people walk all over you. I think that’s a mistake sometimes people make, it’s more of a really empowering, make a real strong connection with someone. For example, I was a consultant, actually I still am, but was full time consultant for 14500 companies for 10 years. And one of my clients directly told me, she said when she signed these the contract to work with our country company, she said I will sign this contract as long as you manage it because I trust you. And so when you listen to someone and they feel heard and they feel like you get them and you understand them or they trust that if you don’t fully understand him you will take the time to, then there’s that trust and they’re like yeah, I want to work with Lyn because she’s going to be there for me and she’s going to advocate for my needs and that resulted in sales and bigger contracts and longer people more willing to sign long term contract, which is amazing.

Yeah, so that’s a different side of it. I can talk about teenagers but I was going to say, I suppose if you’re in a business with other human beings, I would imagine it would be extremely beneficial if you’re in like an e-commerce business where there’s not actually much interaction, then these skills, I think in your personal life are still going to be extremely valuable. So it’s one of those things which self-development-wise, I kind of feel like listening and listening skills have a bit of a marketing problem because that’s a really important skill, not many people are talking about it. Any thoughts on that?

I think you’re absolutely right because when we’re in school we’re taught, you know, sit down and listen, right? So we kind of have this assumption that by the time we’re done with school and we’re in the real world, you know that this assumption that listening is just like passively having information come in your ears. And I think you’re right that you know in business a lot of times because it is true if you are vibrant and you have the energy and the confidence and you can speak eloquently, it is true, that is a very powerful tool and so that’s why I think business is focused so much on the powerful presentations, but the listening is a harder piece to integrate in.

So yeah, do they have a marketing issues?

Absolutely. What do we do about it? I’m not sure. Well I think in terms of what we do about that, I think you are doing something about that. So I would say you are in the minority of people who are actually highlighting the importance of listening skills well and you know it’s interesting because people are Googling or searching on the internet for listening skills because the inception of this business was actually not something I was looking out for at all. I have a son in high school in the United States here and one of the things that we can do, is kids can do a work study mentorship under someone, learn a real world skill, and then it can apply towards some of their school credits and so he said, oh well, my mom is a podcaster, I’ll learn podcasting and I’ll learn her technology. And so I thought okay great, awesome, so he was going to do a podcast, we started teaching him everything, and then when it came for the time for him to actually record something, he said like a good teenager, I don’t want to do this anymore, this is dumb, why did you make me do this, mom? And so I turned on my listening skills, right? You know, and just asked him to tell me more, you know, leaned in great eye contact, slow things down, go at his pace. And in listening, I discovered he actually didn’t think the project was dumb. Actually, the fact that he said he didn’t want to do it, you know, don’t take a teenager for face value nine times out of ten, right? It was he wasn’t ready to record his own voice and have it out there in the public. So at that moment, we decided that we would come up with a topic, record the 12 or 14 episodes and then he would still do all the production work. So that’s where listening skills came from. Because we had just like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do? What are we gonna record on? We got to make something up, and this launched almost a year ago, we’ve done no advertising for it, and it still gets like 100 downloads every single day, which is crazy for a podcast that year old to still be getting all kinds of downloads.

Yeah, no, there’s a demand then for what you do.  

Yeah, there’s a demand and it’s a term people are searching.

So yeah, it’s kind of a crazy way that it started so good in terms of the difference between what you do and what I’ve heard before. What’s your take on active listening and is that different from what you advocate?

You know, I would say what actually is pretty much the very, very basics of active listening, you know, it’s the eye contact, it’s the, you know, body language, it’s leaning in looking towards the person you’re talking to. But it’s, I would say, even more simple then active listening. It’s just the very basics and then the guide – because of my degree and backgrounds in education – and so I’m asking myself the question, okay, if technically we already know what these skills are, technically, if everybody can kind of list off probably half of the basic listening skills, even if you’re a terrible listener, what’s the gap? Why is the behaviour not matching? Why is the listening not happening when we kind of already know? You know, it’s that same thing of if we know how to eat and exercise, why don’t we eat and exercise in the right way, right? You know, what’s that gap? And that’s really that next piece of what we look to solve. And so we created a guide using just my degree and background in education and how adult brains learn and have another book on a different topic. That’s actually one of a bunch of awards and it’s about behaviour change and it’s like simple, simple, simple. Here’s the first concept, eye contact. Okay, now let’s go and practice eye contact. Now let’s evaluate ourselves and our ability to do eye contact. Now let’s observe other conversations and see how that conversation that we’re observing at the coffee shop or the pub, you know, how would that conversation be better or worse if the eye contact was different?

And we do that with all ten skills. And by the end it kind of gets you because you start analysing everybody’s conversation around you, but you’re able to just actually really internalise it and see and practice. And then that’s where the life change comes. So to your question, Thomas, about how is this different from active listening skills? Not so much. What’s different is it’s just so simple and so laser focused that hopefully the hope is that it actually creates change in people’s lives. Well, I think in terms of being able to achieve a goal which is to be a better listener, breaking it down, micro goals, is going to be the best way to start.

So I’ve heard many times about people who they practice the concept of, I’m just going to wait for my next turn to talk and I’m not actually going to take in anything what you’re saying. Any thoughts there that spring to mind?

Yes, that’s a really good point because that concept of they’re talking, but I’m formulating what I want to say and what I have to say, is probably really important, but if I focus on what the other person is saying, I might forget what I have to say, and that’s just not where I want to go. So yeah, so we actually teach in like, I don’t know, lesson 107 or 108, I don’t know, but basically when you listen to the other person talking, you want to not interrupt. And of course, let me pause here and say, of course this is context and of course nothing in the world ever applies to everything. So we just kind of ramp it up to make it really easy to see. And then you apply it the best you can in the real world, but when we’re sitting across the table from somebody, hypothetically, we don’t interrupt until they finish a thought. And so that could be one word, that could be five minutes, ten minutes. But unless we’re doing like a quick little clarifying piece, we don’t interrupt till they finish a thought. And then when it’s our turn to talk, we don’t go into those thoughts we have banked in our head. Instead, we first reiterate and clarify to make sure we understand what they said and make conversations go a lot longer. But in a way it’s way more efficient if people feel understood and heard and this works surprisingly well in high conflict situations because you can say, I have a couple of incredibly high conflict customers in the past and high conflict relationships in my life that just can’t go away for, I mean, we all have that, right, life is messy and I found that that piece of now I want to say what I want to say and nobody’s actually – everyone’s saying what they want to say – but nobody’s actually listening is a beautiful magic way to drive through.

That is to say, okay, have you done this with a narcissist before? And it actually it actually works. okay. I really want to hear what you’re saying. I want you to feel understood so I will fit and listen to you and clarify until you say yes, you understand me. Yeah, you do the same for me. And here’s the crazy thing. The person on the other side of the table, even if it’s high conflict, they will probably say yes, I will listen to you in return because they don’t want to be the jerk that says no, I want to talk and I won’t listen, right? That’s our core, we have that, and so that tends to work well. If you get to that point where it’s like, no, but then it’s like, okay, then you quickly identify like this conversation is not going to, you know, we need to take a breather, step away, come back later. But yeah, so you clarify and then you can share your piece.

What I get though is that like, what do you do when you have somebody who just won’t stop talking right? You don’t have anybody like that in your life, right? Somebody who’s just like, wow, I don’t know, they just blue streak. This is one tiny pro tip I teach and only because it’s been really super effective in my life is – and this is not a listening thing – but it’s a question that comes up because, you know, if there’s somebody who’s notorious about never stopping talking, I’m trying to come up with nice, non-profane words to say about them, you know, interrupt them. That’s the one time, just mid-sentence, interrupt them nicely and move on and they won’t even notice because if somebody talks nonstop their entire life, everybody in their life has to interrupt them in order to get a word in edgewise.

So that person who talks nonstop has a skewed sense of reality of that’s just how it works. People interrupt each other so you actually can interrupt them with your thought nine times out of ten, they’ll jump right on with you and they won’t even realise that you rudely interrupted them because they just think that’s how conversations work. So it’s a short term strategy, not part of the long term goal, but that question always comes up but they’re like but what about, you know? Yeah, Becky. A thanksgiving – you know what I do? Excuse me? That’s an American holiday. But you know what, you know what I mean? Any theories on why people become like that now? Yeah. How about you? How about you Thomas, what do you what do you think? I think you touched on something which was which was upbringing. So let’s say, I mean, I wouldn’t attempt to identify the exact reason but like if you were in a family with – I don’t know – eight siblings or something and the only way you could get a word in was by continually talking and making sure that you are allowed this person and if you were brought up like that then I can imagine how that would turn into that behaviour.

Yeah. You know what, I think I haven’t done my research on that, but it completely makes sense because I think about how I grew up, it was not perfect by any means, but I grew up in that era of that real traditional, we sat down as a family of five every single night for dinner, every kid had their turn to share what happened during the day. And it wasn’t it felt good, it was just a normal thing we did, you know. It’s Aaron starting to talk now. Sherry’s turned to talk and you just, you know, it worked out, it worked out great. So that’s how I was, how I was raised and I think it’s, it’s good and bad in both ways, right? If you’re raised going in and get in your way and you know, bulldozing, there’s good and bad to that. And if you were like me raised polarised on the other side, I’m just always listening and never having to learn how to push through.

Sometimes you have to push through to get your voice heard, you know, then I had to work through how to advocate for myself and how to be heard and presentation skills was something I had to work on. Yeah, I had that, go ahead the next time that you get one of those people that doesn’t stop talking and you have to interrupt them, it can be our inside joke where you can just say, did you have eight siblings? What? Okay, that is beautiful. That is beautiful. Well, and then you’ve got the other end of the spectrum of what do you do when you really need information out of someone or you really want more information, but they just don’t talk or they give you, you know, and this is the whole teenage example which absolutely applies to all relationships. And it’s the concept is to take the last word or two of the speaker if they’re not speaking as much or if you want more and if you want more detail without seeming like you’re probing too hard, take the last word or two that they said give a long and just give a long pause with the body language that says you’re listening, they cannot help themselves.

They will tell you more. I mean, so the classic example is the kid who comes home from school, and this is a real example from our lives, teenager comes home from school. Hey honey, how was school? Fine, fine. Well it’s kind of dumb, kind of dumb. Yeah well we got this math assignment and the teacher blah blah blah, you know and you can go down and just get so much more information so that works with everybody but you have to be willing grab the last word or two long awkward pause and I’ll just fill in the space for you usually it’s amazing and when we put this listening skills project together my son and I we work together on it and then the whole family learned about this and it became kind of top of mind in the family which let me tell you is super awesome for the family to have the listening skills vocabulary. And so we would start doing this to each other just repeating the last word or two and it became a joke in the family and we’re like I did it again, I got you to talk but it does also kind of tell them that you know I want to know more.

I want to hear more about what your day was. Yeah, yeah. I can’t like it. I think there are an awful lot of parents that might need that information. It’s been of all the things I talk about, that’s the number one thing people come back and say, wow, that was life changing. And I was on an interview a few weeks ago and the gentleman it was like a brewery and burrows kind of podcast of teaching young men had to be more men. And I did that to him and I just asked, just started repeating the last word and then after about two minutes he said, well he had no idea this was going on, he was like, wow, we just ended up way down a rabbit hole. Like I’m not sure how he got there. And I was like, because I did it to you, that’s like everybody rewind the tape and you will hear, I just did that to of and it was just, it was it was made my day you touched on something there, which I wanted to ask you about, which was you are going on as a podcast guest speaking to people and the format is talking.

So presumably you’re having some instances, I’m guessing, where people aren’t listening all that well, so what’s that dynamic like? What’s that like for you?

When I’m talking on a podcast, you are advocating better listening and yet perhaps the person who is talking is maybe not listening that well. Oh, gotcha, gotcha. Well, here’s the funny thing when you talk about listening skills, when I talk about listening skills and it’s top of mind in an actual interview about listening skills, I’ve never had that happen. And the reason is because it’s up front top of mind and I believe my hypothesis is that it is estimate to the fact that people actually want to be better listeners. And so when we’re thinking about it, we do want to do it. And in that moment when it’s in our conscious mind of I want to be a better listener, we actually can be better listeners.

Now, five minutes later, it might go out the window. But even in our family, you know, when this project was going on, we were way better listeners. And now it ebbs and flows and we remind each other to when I had friends over at my house and talked about the project. The second you start talking – and it’s a funny thing – the second you start talking about listening skills all of a sudden like their eye contact gets better, their posture gets better like that, you kind of know, you just have to be reminded. So it’s really the hard work is just day to day when you’re just interacting with somebody who doesn’t have this top of mind isn’t thinking about it and it’s not necessarily an appropriate context to be able to say, oh hey, by the way, you really should listen to this podcast and brush up on your listening skills. You know, I didn’t expect you to say that. I thought that there would be maybe some people who not, not that self-aware, but I mean that’s good, that’s a positive thing if people are that way inclined.

I had one person on a podcast who is going to business school who interviewed me and this particular person I knew who was one of those never stops talking personalities. Somebody I knew maybe in my family believe I’m nameless. And they, even in the conversation, they were saying they would stop themselves and say, oh my gosh, this is so hard. We’re talking about listening and I’m doing all the talking and that, I mean that happened multiple times. So there’s an example of someone who is just the one who talks a blue streak over everyone and they got themselves to a place of frustration because it was so hard to do the listening but they were committing to changing. I think the hard parts are when you get to, you know, an event or group or business situation where there’s a lot of big egos and the majority of people haven’t brushed up on listening skills and then it’s like, you know, that’s where you just kind of hope that they can get to those listening skills again someday, because we definitely, as you mentioned Thomas, we are nowhere near that tipping point of having the majority of us being able to listen at all.

Well, what you brought up kind of makes me think about what you know, your business, and how maybe a part of the selling point is actually to be present, so that people are reminded about the fact that they need to keep it top of mind. Do you do any of that?  Tell me a little bit more about keeping it present on top of mind.

So in the instance where you’re talking to people and listening skills are top of mind for them, therefore they do it well. And if you’re if you’re helping people with, with listening, part of a selling point for you, presumably is that if they want to be better listeners, which most people do, they need to continually have you have your services because in order to do that, they’re going to be better listeners. Okay, That’s brilliant. I need to write that down, because when you go back to the inception of the whole business, that’s actually really brilliant, you go back to the inception of the business and where it came from. Originally, the business plan was, we set it up academic, like, here’s our listening skills, 101 the basic skills. And then at the end of that, you’ll hear me say, oh, in coming soon, list 202 and, you know, 303, more advanced skills. And then I quickly realised that these basic skills are so foundational, so powerful and we need reminding over and over and over that we abandoned the advanced skills because we’re like exactly what you just said, but I never put it – thank you, I’d never put it in those words before – that you just need to refresh. So I’m going to think about that and yeah, and still like, because you’ve got to come back and refresh. Yeah, No, no, no, I hadn’t thought about that before. Thank you. Don’t worry, you might just save my business.

So what podcasts are supposed to be about, right? But in terms of what those found out, foundational skills are, and let’s say someone wants to go ahead and implement something to make them a better listener, what would you recommend as like the first few steps? Oh, just head over to and it’s a Just It’s super, super simple web page. It’s just one page. And right up front there is the podcast episodes, there’s think 14 of them. They are three to four minutes each. So you could like right now while I’m talking you could go to listening skills dot shop or you can any podcast player, you’ll see it there and just start listening to. Those are free like any other podcast and then if you want to practise and dial in there is a workbook that we mentioned before that will help you dial it in. But yeah, within a half hour from right now you could be brushed up on your basic listening skills.

Any misconceptions about the topic. Great question and I touched on it earlier but I would like to ask you actually I’d like to do some listening, what do you see as some misconceptions about listening?

I suppose it depends on the context. If we’re speaking business-wise, I would suspect that the misconception would be that it’s a skill which would be nice to have but is not vital to have, not mandatory to have. And so an example of that would be, for example, I do a lot of marketing advertising related, you can see a clear are we on that activity, but because listening skills is a little harder to quantify, you can’t directly stay here is the effort I put in and here’s what I’ve gotten back. But I think that because of the things we’ve discussed today and especially if you’re in a person to person business, I think it’s bound to be something that would be beneficial for you.

Yeah. Yeah. Well and you know, Thomas that’s actually really interesting about the numbers because it is listening skills with the soft skill, right? So it’s just almost impossible to quantify you know, leading indicators of all of that and how it all works together. However, I would say if we think about business and think about teams and what causes the most frustration in work day to day and if somebody’s frustrated with their manager, I would say most of the time people’s frustration with management or VP or executive levels is they feel like their manager or the VP doesn’t get it or they don’t understand when that comes down to listening. And really there’s so much power if you’re thinking about motivating teams and motivating people, we are way more motivated to work hard for somebody that we feel understands us and we can address them.

And that trust is built by listening and we could take it even further and just think about just all the struggles in 2020 and covid and feeling you know, just being in lockdown for lack of a better word and it’s just, I think a lot of people just felt so alone and felt like there was nobody there to hear them and they had no voice and really feeling like you have a voice is so powerful and so energising in a way. So yeah, I think listening is an amazing thing. I think execs make the mistake all the time and feeling like they’re too busy to listen. And I’ve managed big corporate projects with teams of 100 and more. And one of the things I always did as much as humanly possible was listening and there’s something magic about doing that one on one small groups that maybe there’s no action items that come out of, it may be nothing changes.

But the loyalty of the people that I listen to just skyrockets every time, so it’s definitely an activity worth doing. People like to be heard for sure.

Yes, they do. I have found it very calming, you’re very calming person to speak to if you’ve gotten that feedback.

Yes, yes I have, I get feedback about my voice specifically and you know, I’ve come to a place in my life – you could say I’m middle age, which I don’t think I am – I’ll be 37 forever, you know, even though I’m, yes, way older than that. That’s just a silly side joke because I literally have birthday candles that say 37 I’m actually 48 but I still use my 37 birthday candles. Yeah, just a whole random side, I think. But I think I’ve come to a place in my life where I realise that I’m not always this mellow and calm.

I also can be a little crazy and fun and wacky. But I’ve learned that slowing down and really listening or being focused has been an incredible tool for me. I’ve even got a picking on my monitor right here that says centre your mind and put your hands and then put your hands on the keyboard and just be so powerful. I could get in front of my computer and I first as close my eyes, centre my mind like okay, what am I really doing here? What’s going on? What’s important? Okay, now I’m ready to go and that’s and part of the reason is okay, this is okay with a little bit of a tangent for business. Yeah, okay, is part of it is I spent 20 years in corporate as a consultant, working for high pressure, big stakes stressed out, you know, working 80 hours a week jobs and I was, you know, that type a can do, I mean look at me listening skills, I just like we built that last summer just on a whim and it’s  you know, here it is, I mean, that’s just kind of who I am and about five years ago my health fell apart that I’d worked too hard and I was diagnosed with three different things, one of them being fibromyalgia, and so I had about a year where I essentially couldn’t really do anything and I think, I know it was my body telling me, Lyn, you gotta slow down, you got to take your stress levels down.

And so that has just in the last five years been really transformational for me to help me manage and really dive in, How do I manage stress? How do I, you know, stay high performing, you know, because you don’t, you don’t want to let go of that, you know, how do I stay high performing and still not wreck my body in the process or die a young death? and so that’s been really, really good for me in my, in my old age. Well, I’m glad that you’ve, you’ve been able to sustain performance and kind of go towards that zen approach. It makes me happy. No. yeah, you seem fairly easy on yourself Thomas well, I don’t know, I guess it’s just natural. So I least like to think that I’m a good listener, whether or not that’s the case or not.

I think maybe I need to listen to your podcast a little bit and then double check whether that’s the case. But given the fact that you are, let’s say more mellow now, what are your goals?

My goals are well with listening skills. The book is electronic and I’m in the process of getting that put out in a print version. So we’ve got drafts were working on with that. And then the podcast actually talks about the 203 100 level courses which I have abandoned. So I need to update that. But really the more I can just reach out to groups and communities and help them just re look at this the better. And then yeah, I think my life goals are pretty simple as far as just, yep, being centred, loving family, loving kids, loving friends, and being healthy, because having your health is a huge, huge enabler. Underrated, isn’t it? Health, Yeah, it is until you start approaching 50 and then all of a sudden it’s like top of mine.

But yeah, I remember being in my twenties and hearing people my age talk about health issues, and reading glasses and thinking, oh, that’s just, you know, old people are just complaining, and now, here I am. But yeah, health is huge and I do have another business called Couch Active, that’s all about helping people with chronic illnesses, being a healthy lifestyle. So that’s another gig that I worked on. You’re an overachiever, I think you say that’s true to a fault, yep. That’s part of my therapy, so I’m always okay, okay, here’s a bit of advice for all the overachievers out there who, you know, you always have 1000 ideas and you can only execute on a certain number of them somewhere. I learned that in order to be an overachiever when you have too many ideas and not enough hours in the day and you’re not about to go higher, hire staff to do it for you, right?

Especially solopreneurs, is to realise that if you live a life of just doing what you can every day and some things fall off the plate, that’s kind of a reactive you’re out of control, You’re not choosing what falls off the plate. And I think part of the overachiever is we really struggle. We don’t want anything to fall off the plate. But I realised that if I look at my plate and say, okay, 12 of these 14 things are going to fall off the plate, I need to choose what I want to stay on the plate and make that choice. The others will fall off the plate. That’s actually what got listening skills going. And that’s what got my other business Couch Active going is it’s like, okay, this is great. I have this other idea for three other books I want to write. But you know what if I start writing three books while I’m doing listening skills, I’m not going to get any of them done. And so yeah, there’s another tangent for you.

Good advice. Is there anything which you think that would be worthwhile mentioning that haven’t asked you about today?

No. I would just say when it comes to listening and learning to listen, it’s a lifelong practice and share with your friends that you’re doing this. It looks at me, tell people in your life, hey, I’m working on being a better listener and you could say like, hey, I listen to these podcasts and I’m working on becoming a better listener, do that and share that with anybody and everybody. And you will find just saying that in that moment, the person in the room with you will be like, yeah, nobody else can listen. Nobody listens. And in that moment they might try to listen to you better and in that moment you might be able to share something you’ve been wanting to share and they might be in a space where they can actually hear you.  

Again, great advice. I really also like if there is someone who doesn’t speak that much and you’re in a position where you’re open to listening and yet you’re not getting much back. Your strategy for that was great. I’m gonna have to try that one. Yeah, Lyn where’s the best place for people to find?

Just head on over to You can also Google my name, Lyn Limburg and I come up all over the place.

Well, thank you very much for all the value today.

Oh, thank you. It was an honour and a pleasure to meet you.