Cover art for podcast Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

139 EpisodesProduced by Oscar TrimboliWebsite

The world is a noisy place where you fight to be heard every day. Despite the fact that we have been taught at home and at school how to speak, none of us has had any training in how to listen. Multiple academic studies have shown that between 50% and 55% of your working day is spent listening, yet … read more


Vanessa Oshima explains what market research can teach us about listening to customers

When you are told that “you have cancer,” your mind just goes blank. Vanessa Oshima had this experience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Vanessa’s doctor started to systematically go through what she needed to communicate. She had moved on to fixing things, but Vanessa was still stuck on the word “cancer” and not believing it, so she stopped listening. Vanessa, president and founder of Heart Data, describes what it was like to be diagnosed with cancer and what that meant for her as a patient. Having cancer is a physical, emotional, and social journey that affects not only the patient, but  their family, friends, colleagues - a whole community.Also, from living in Japan, Vanessa explains how the Japanese listen differently than Westerners. She found that Westerners are too quick to rush and not listen to what is said and what is not said. The Japanese culture focuses on judgement and filters that impede great listening.Market research lets companies listen to customers every day. But do they choose to listen?

Tune in to Learn

  • Vanessa describes the aspects of her physical, emotional, and social journey. Not being able to do what she used to do. She was holding on too tight to pre-cancer life and not understanding that life would be different now.
  • While Vanessa was stunned at the news of having cancer, luckily her husband was with her and was able to take notes on what her doctor was saying about it.
  • Vanessa learned that when delivering tough news, rather than being very dry, it should be done in a very thoughtful and empathetic way.
  • When you need to communicate something but don’t stop to make sure the listener (person or audience) is hearing you, then that becomes ineffective communication. You’re talking, but they are not listening.
  • To do things differently and prepare a listener for tough news is first asking them about their mindset. Find out what’s important to the listener. Give them time to grasp what is happening and how they want to proceed.
  • Gauge what is said but also what is not said to help someone deal with difficult news.
  • In market research, it’s important to acknowledge patterns and people’s comments to let the listener know that they have been heard. React to a reaction.
  • Communication is not just words. But how often are we actually watching and listening? Not enough.
  • The Japanese culture is very zen and considerate. With the Japanese, you need to listen to what is unsaid and pick up information through actions, such as when they take in a breath of air. They are aware of their surroundings and details, which allows them to listen.
  • Westerners who travel to Japan should not take everything at face value. In Japan, there is much more context and meaning. Take time to learn and listen to the cultural context.
  • Avoid judging others. Vanessa had her own definition of equality and thought Japanese women were not being treated equally and that was discrimination. However, after conducting research, she discovered that was not true. The Japanese define equality differently. You can fail to listen because you have biases.
  • Companies often invest a lot of money into listening consumers. But how well do they listen? Companies track what they want to know about, but not necessarily what the consumer wants to tell them. Also, too much data is tracked, so not all of it is used.
  • The market research industry is evolving to understand what companies need to listen for. Consumers are making information available to companies every day - if they choose to listen to it.
  • Listen to every complaint to figure out what you need to do - that is market research. Everybody should be a researcher and use data. There are techniques to listen for the right things and find the signal, not the noise.
  • Market research is listening to your consumers, creating data around your consumers, and understanding your consumers.
  • There is so much data available. We need to understand how to use and listen to it.
  • While at Coca-Cola, Vanessa taught people how to listen and ask questions to make sure they were good listeners. She used the stream of consciousness technique - just letting a person talk. They remember things that were important, and you ask them about what they said.  
  • Don’t ask “Why” because it makes people have to defend their point of view. It is more inviting to say, “I want to understand” rather than “I don’t understand.” Make market research inviting and engaging.
  • Sometimes, consumers cannot communicate what they want to say.

Links and Resources:

Vanessa Oshima on LinkedIn


When you are giving tough news, that level of conversation has to be very thoughtful. - Vanessa

Everybody says communication is not just words, and they are so right. - Vanessa

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