The ONE WORD that makes you sound like a good listener

“Honey, I got fired this afternoon.”

“Boss, I lost the Gregory Account today…”

“Dude, I’m thinking about moving to Pamplona!”

“Yes, um, your airline recently lost both of my bags!”


It’s a great word. A beautiful word.
It’s a complete sentence. A wonderful sentence.

And, it’s an effective way to show someone you’re listening.

For LOTS of reasons…

First, here’s what WOW is:

WOW … is a neutral term.
Because it doesn’t agree or disagree.

WOW … is a versatile term.
Because your inflection and body language shift its meaning.

WOW … is an empathetic term.
Because it exudes concern.

WOW … is a non-judgmental term.
Because it doesn’t accuse or condescend.

WOW … is an emotionally nonreactive term.
Because it’s more of a statement of observation.

That’s what WOW is.

Secondly, here’s what WOW does:

WOW … avoids over actively listening to someone.
Instead, it simply acknowledges someone’s statement and then shuts up.
And this passes the ball back into the their court.

WOW … offers an immediate answer, thus laying a foundation of affirmation.
Which makes people feel valued, validated and important.
And this is the objective of growing bigger ears.

WOW … buys you some time, until you can define your official response.
Which will come later, after you’ve heard the whole story.
And this prevents Foot In Mouth Disease.

WOW … helps you maintain composure when presented with unexpected, difficult or crucial information.
Which reduces your emotional reactivity.
And this grounds you in a non-defensive posture.

WOW … creates space in the conversation, which grants the speaker permission to continue.
Which enables healthy and honest communication to openly flow.
And this moves you both closer to a connection and a solution.

That’s what WOW does.

And it’s only one word.

It’s only one sentence.

And yet, it’s still a powerful practice for growing bigger ears!

What words make someone sound like a good listener?

Share your Phrases That Payses here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Approachable Management: Say What You See

PICTURE THIS: You receive word that one of your employees might have screwed up.

Naturally, your job is to get to the bottom the situation.

So, you invite her into your office. You close the door and she takes a seat.

As you sit down, you can already identify an aura of defensiveness in the air. Maybe even a little guilt.

So. What’s your approach?

FOUR WORDS: Say what you see.

That means observe, don’t accuse.
Or else she won’t open up to you.

That means insinuate; don’t impose.
Or else she’ll feel even more defensive.

That means describe; don’t prescribe.
Or else she’ll think you’re trying to “fix” her.

Here are three hypothetical examples:

DON’T SAY: “Your third quarter sales were the lowest at our entire branch!”
DO SAY: “It looks like your third quarter sales were lower than normal.”

DON’T SAY: “Why do you come in 15 minutes late EVERY day?”
DO SAY: “I noticed on your time card that you’ve been clocking in at about 8:15 lately.”

DON’T SAY: “Way to piss off the people who pay our bills, dumbass!”
DO SAY: “I see that one of our customers gave you a pretty hostile evaluation.”

See, by objectively “saying what you see,” your words empower the employee in three ways:

1. They enable her to respond.
2. They allow her to clarify the situation.
3. They let her take ownership of the problem.

So, next time you need to approach one of your employees about a mistake they’ve made, remember to use language that is:

o Objective
o Non-judgmental
o Non-comparison based
o Emotionally unreactive
o A statement of observation
o An impartial piece of feedback
o Non-challenging to someone’s character or attitude

Say what you see.

That way, maybe your employees will help you see it better!

What’s your secret for staying objective when approaching employees?

For a list called “79 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask,” send an email to and I’ll take care of ya!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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7 Ways to Overcommunicate Anything

On a number of occasions, I’ve either heard or read the following statement:

“You can’t over communicate.”

And I’m not sure I agree with that.

Here are my reasons:

You can talk too much.
Which means you’re not listening that much.

You can listen too actively.
Which comes off as annoying and fake.

You can ask too many questions.
Which turns you into an interrogator.

You can be around too much.
Which might give someone the impression that you’re spying on her.

You can violate someone’s boundaries.
Which makes them feel uncomfortable.

You can use someone’s name too often.
Which appears unnecessary, forced and inauthentic.

You can check up on people too much.
Which demonstrates a lack of trust and unwillingness to relieve ownership.

What do YOU think?

Is it possible to overcommunicate?

If so, post your examples here! If not, share with us anyway!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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68 Things Employees Never Want to Hear Their Manager Say

1. Better luck next time.
2. Can I see you for a second?
3. Close the door.
4. Conditions were different when I said that.
5. Discussion is over.
6. Don’t bother me right now.
7. Don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions.
8. Everybody’s doing it.
9. Get out!
10. Guess what I’ volunteering you for?
11. Here, you handle this problem. I’m busy.
12. Here’s what you’re doing wrong.
13. I can’t help it if it’s your day off.
14. I don’t care if it’s your day off.
15. I don’t have time for you right now.
16. I don’t want to hear it.
17. I know it’s a holiday, but…
18. I know it’s Saturday, but…
19. I know it’s your day off, but…
20. I need to have a word with you.
21. I need you to do this.
22. I never said that!
23. I’m not the problem, you are.
24. I’m right, you’re wrong.
25. I’m too busy to listen.
26. If you could go ahead and drop off those TPS reports, that would be grrrrreeeeat.
27. If you have anything to say, keep it to yourself.
28. In case a bus hits you, I want to make sure you and Karen are inter-changeable.
29. Is this YOUR bag of drugs?
30. It doesn’t matter.
31. It was political.
32. It’s not my fault; I didn’t know the law.
33. Merit didn’t have anything to do with it.
34. My mind is made up.
35. No, I don’t understand and I probably never will.
36. Nobody will know.
37. Oh, we’re finished.
38. Some you win; some you lose.
39. That’s horrible! Do it over.
40. That’s how it’s always been done.
41. That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.
42. The schedule is already made up.
43. There’s no problem.
44. Those are breaks of the game.
45. Try paying attention to what you’re doing.
46. We aren’t the problem, they are.
47. We’re replacing you with this robot…
48. We’re right, they’re wrong.
49. We’ve already tried that before.
50. What’s your name again?
51. Who the hell is responsible for this?
52. You brought this on yourself.
53. You can leave now.
54. You can’t go to church – you have to work.
55. You don’t really feel that way.
56. You got into this mess, now you get out of this mess.
57. You haven’t worked here long enough.
58. You putz; can you do ANYTHING right?
59. You should have known better.
60. You’re fired.
61. You’re not allowed to say that.
62. You’re not educated enough.
63. You’re not living up to your potential.
64. You’re not ready.
65. You’re wrong.
66. You’ve got a looooong way to go before we give you any new responsibilities.
67. Your office chair didn’t show up so you’ll be sitting on orange crates for the next two weeks.
68. You’re going to do it because I say you’re going to do it. Now move!

What’s on YOUR list of things employees never want to hear their manager say?

Share your list here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Growing Bigger Ears: Avoid Emotional Reactivity

“You did WHAT? Three thousand dollars? Oh my God! Are you freaking CRAZY?!”

– – –

How would you feel if someone reacted that way to YOU?

Maybe a little defensive?
Maybe a little frustrated?
Maybe a little hesitant to open up further?

Right. Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?

This is a typical example of Emotional Reactivity, and it’s a dangerous barrier to Growing Bigger Ears.

See, certain things that people say WILL emotionally activate you. And as a result, you might felt the need to defend yourself, get huffy or even get the uncontrollable urge to yell!


Stay cool, stay calm and stay open.

That’s easy for YOU to say! you think. You’re not the one whose 17 year-old son just crashed the car into the garage door! You’re not the one whose best salesperson just lost the firm’s biggest client!

Fair enough.

But I’m not suggesting you repress your anger or hide your emotions. Instead, challenge yourself to become a better listener by responding emotionally objective, not emotionally reactive.

That means you…

STRIVE TO: pause, not jump.
STRIVE FOR: dialogue, not debate.
STRIVE TO BE: curious, not judgmental.
STRIVE TO APPEAR: observant, not accusatory.

IN SHORT: Objective, not reactive.

Because if you don’t, here are the potential dangers:

Emotional Reactivity is contagious.
Which increases conversational tension.

Emotional Reactivity is disrespectful.
Which is antithetical to the entire philosophy of Growing Bigger Ears.

Emotional Reactivity undermines trust.
Which taints the effectiveness of your listening environment.

Emotional Reactivity blocks understanding.
Which actively interferes with the listening process.

Emotional Reactivity creates defensiveness.
Which decreases the likelihood of someone opening up further.

Emotional Reactivity prevents people from saying what they want to say.
Which means it takes longer to achieve a resolution.

– – –

So, now that you understand the definitions and dangers of Emotional Reactivity, next we’re going explore six practices to help you avoid it.

1. Start with yourself. Before you can effectively listen to others, you must first listen within. Know thyself. To thine own self be true. You know, all of that stuff.

Consider these three questions to pinpoint the triggers of your Emotional Reactivity:

o Where does your emotional reactivity come from?
o What personal biases get in the way of listening effectively?
o When was the last time you listened, all the way through, to an idea that made you uncomfortable?

2. Objective, not reactive. Objectivity is in short supply. So, learn to act in response to the thoughts that fuel your Emotional Reactivity.

For example, if a comment made by an employee stirs up something fierce inside you, just STOP. Consider removing yourself from the situation doing a few exercises to increase oxygen and blood flow.

You could try focused breathing, taking a break or just getting up and walking around. All of these practices will relax your mind and body, thus reducing reactivity.

CAUTION: These relaxation techniques are most effective when carried out in private, so as to reduce the likelihood of coworkers thinking you’re really, really weird.

3. Respond; don’t react. There’s a MAJOR difference between these two words philosophies. See, reactions don’t require thought. They’re knee-jerk reflexes. Responses, on the other hand, are more thought-out. They’re mindful and reflective.

So, it’s important to first recognize that you always have a choice: to either react or respond. To resist the impulse.

Here are four solid questions to ask yourself:

o Why do I feel this way?
o What kinds of things am I reactive to?
o What would be an appropriate way to respond?
o What are the emotional triggers that generate anxiety inside me that prevent me from listening well?

4. Say what you see. Use statements of observation that are non-judgmental, non-comparison based and non-YOU-oriented. Phrases That Payses include:

o “I noticed…”
o “Tell me about…”
o “I wonder if…”
o “How do you feel about…?”
o “Here’s what I observed…”

Comments like these accomplish several goals. First of all, an objective piece of feedback doesn’t challenge someone’s character or attitude. Secondly, it opens the door to discussion. Thirdly, it fosters explanation, not accusation. And lastly, it doesn’t put the other person on the spot for an immediate answer.

5. Conduct internal dialogues. During periods of silence that precede your reactions responses, pay attention to what’s happening inside you while you listen. Consult the Spirits. The Powers That Be. The Muse. The Third Ear.

Or whatever you call it.

Ask yourself NOT, “What do I want to say?” but rather, “What wants to be said next?” and “What’s the next question that wants to be asked?”

Then, wait for your Inner Voice to respond.

– – –

As you can see, Growing Bigger Ears is about a series of CHOICES.

The choice to be objective.
The choice to pause, not jump.
The choice to respond, not react.
The choice to be objective, not reactive.
The choice to conserve your emotional energy.
The choice to replace defensiveness with understanding.

What’s more, because human beings shape their identity by the way others respond to them, your actions play a significant role in the formation of someone’s self-image.

SO REMEMBER:i Objective, not reactive.

Be known as someone who welcomes the truth no matter how disturbing or difficult it might be to hear.

Listen for what the person is trying to communicate AND what they’re actually saying.

After all, it’s awfully hard to Grow Bigger Ears when your Emotional Reactivity is louder than what the other person says.

How do you remain emotionally objective?

For a list of 8 non-threatening, objective and inviting Phrases That Payses that demonstrate emotional objectivity, send an email to and I’ll hook you up!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Tired of your employees avoiding you?
Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on!

Watch video lessons on getting them to come to YOU!

Approachable Managers: Lay a Foundation of Affirmation

Because acknowledgment is a universal human need, listening is (initially) about AFFIRMATION.

Making people feel valued, validated and important.

See, human beings shape their self-image based on how they are responded to by others.

For example:

o If someone grew up hearing messages like, “I don’t wanna hear it right now!” and “Stop asking so many questions!”

…it’s likely that she would develop a reticence when approaching people in the future.

o On other hand, if comments like, “Tell me more!” and “That’s a great question!” were ingrained into someone’s mind…

…his future level of approachability would be dramatically different.

For that reason, your (potential) influence as the listener is powerful.

So, you MUST take the opportunity to lay a foundation of affirmation. That way your employees will authentically open up to you.

AND REMEMBER: Even if you don’t care FOR, approve OF or agree WITH someone’s ideas, when they approach YOU in need of a bended ear, you job is to let them know tha you heard them.

Here’s a quick list of 8 Phrases That Payses to help affirm your speaker:

1. You’re raising an important issue.
2. Great question!
3. I’m really glad you brought that up.
4. When you said (x), that triggered the following thought for me…
5. I’m SO glad you asked that question.
6. Interesting point.
7. That is one option we will need to look at.
8. I was hoping you’d ask that question!

(If you need more, you could always consult your friendly affirmation ball.)

Verbiage like this is positive, approachable and affirming. And the best part is, it advances the conversation into a mutually shared space in which people feel safe to open up to you.

And THAT enables you to learn what’s going on with your employees, uncover problems and suggest solutions.

SO REMEMBER: Growing bigger ears is (first) about laying a foundation of affirmation.

How do you affirm your employees and team members?

Share your three best Phrases That Payses here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Want your employees to open up to you?
Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on!

Watch video lessons on growing bigger ears!

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