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Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

Aug 21, 2017

In this episode, I have the opportunity to speak with Alan Stokes. Alan is a journalist and a Lifeline Counsellor. Listen carefully as Alan explores the way that we can become more potent while on the telephone. He shares tips and tricks for becoming more effective when listening on the phone and really getting to the heart of what is being said. We also talk about authenticity and how to be deeply empathetic to the dialogue as it happens.

We explore the role of judgement, and how it takes away from the impact of the conversation. Alan grew up in a beach family, surfing and body surfing. He always loved the escape and the silence of surfing. He also used to be a heavy drinker, when he first became a journalist. He has also struggled with mental illness which has helped define his world view and the importance of being listened to.

Today’s Topics:

  • Asking to have a talk instead of telling sad people to cheer up
  • The difference between sympathy and empathy
  • How reflection is giving back to someone what they have told you in meaning
  • How Alan asked for professional help in his forties
  • Problems have to be solved by the person with the problem
  • How conversations are heightened during phone calls
  • The importance of silence and the true mark of trust
  • Minimal encouragers or reminding the person on the line that you are there
  • Avoiding lecturing or making someone feel interrogated
  • Empowering people with open questions, such as how does it feel
  • How “why” questions can be loaded with judgement
  • Physicality and sitting in an open position and looking interested
  • Getting into the right mindset and being ready to listen
  • How Alan’s journalistic background has served him at Lifeline
  • Importance of bringing out the unsaid

Links and Resources:


“If someone says they are not okay, listen acutely and sit with them as they talk.” Alan Stokes

“Don’t judge, be an empathetic shoulder that sits with someone during their pain.” Alan Stokes

“What helps the sad person is empathy and making it about them, not me or the person listening.” Alan Stokes

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