Ostentatious Listening

Ostentatious Listening + Conversational Turn-Taking = Psychological Safety

Ever wonder how Google builds dream teams of employees? Yes, their successful brand and IP helps attract the best of the best, but how do they get all these amazing minds to work together and excel? Ostentatious Listening.

Ostentatious by definition is characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice. So how does this help Google?

According to Google research, they discovered that success is determined by how people interact with each other, rather than who is on the team itself!

So how do you build the perfect team? Initially, Google’s hypothesis was that the best teams are where you put people together who like each other. They thought you need a good mix of introverts, extroverts, and maybe even people who are friends outside of work! But after looking at data, that found that WHO was on the teams didn’t matter. Google couldn’t find ANY correlations between team members and team success. So then they started looking at how a team interacts… This is where it all became clear! They found that the people who are on a team matter much much less than how those people interact. You could have strangers… or arch enemies on a team… or all one Myer Briggs type. It doesn’t matter! As long as the people treat each other a certain way… as long as there’s a certain culture, then that team will gel! When they delved down into these behaviors, they found TWO that mattered more than anything else.

  1. Equality in Conversational Turn-Taking
    -During a meeting, if everyone speaks roughly the same amount, then that team is much more likely to succeed.
  2. Ostentatious Listening
    -Besides encouraging everyone to speak-up more, team members and team leaders need to demonstrate that they are listening. For example, repeating what a team member just said, or setting down your phone and making eye contact.

If you use these two behaviors on your team, you will create what is called Psychological Safety. When a group feels that they are psychologically safe with each other, you unlock the following:

  • Best Ideas
  • Ability to Work Together
  • Innovative Capacities


Saturday Night Live (SNL) and Google

Wait, how are those two entities in the same heading? SNL and Google are more similar then you think…

Google and SNL’s fundamental belief is it’s only when a team comes together that you actually get the best ideas out of each person.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *