How to Uncover Priceless Treasure in the Archaeological Dig Known as Listening

The secret to growing bigger ears is listening for the intangible forces behind people’s physical expressions.

So, as you sit down to listen to your employee, customer or spouse, I want you think of yourself as an archaeologist. Prepare yourself to dig deep. And be on the lookout for the four intangible forces of listening:

a. Listen for what they value. Something they stand for.
b. Listen for the appearance of vision and purpose. Something that aligns them.
c. Listen for what makes issues important in their lives. Something that drives them.

SO, WONDER: What is this person (really) committed to, after all?
SO, WONDER: What values are at work here?

a. Listen for what someone treasures. Something they’d die for.
b. Listen for what makes them come alive. Something that burns deep inside.
c. Listen for what makes them withdraw. Something that holds them back.

SO, WONDER: What is at work here?
SO, WONDER: What is emerging now?

a. Listen for resistance. Something they back away from.
b. Listen for avoidance. Something they don’t want to deal with.
c. Listen for hesitation. Something they’re uncertain about.

SO, WONDER: Where is it this person doesn’t want to go?
SO, WONDER: What is it the person doesn’t want to deal with?

a. Listen for fear. Something that terrifies them.
b. Listen for self-sabotage. Something they unconsciously inflict upon themselves.
c. Listen for imbalance. Something that throws them out of whack.

SO, WONDER: What message was sent but not spoken?
SO, WONDER: What is this person’s immediate experience?

a. Listen for cognitive dissonance. Something that divides them.
b. Listen for incongruity. Something that doesn’t match up.
c. Listen for contradiction. Something that seems inconsistent.

SO, WONDER: What disconnect could you help this person realize?
SO, WONDER: What gap can you help this person bridge?

OK, Indiana. Now that you’ve entered the conversation with curiosity and noticed people’s intangibles tendencies, the next step is to articulate what’s going on.

That means sniffing out falsehoods.
That means helping them connect the dots.
That means telling them what you see them doing.
That means naming things out loud to realign with them.
That means illuminating truth and helping them recognize it.
That means noticing the nuances they haven’t brought into their consciousness yet.

Here are four Phrases That Payses to help verbalize your observations in a curious, objective and non-threatening manner:

1. “I have an observation.” Calling your comment an observation makes it neutral. You simply say what you see. Focusing on the behavior, not the person. The best part is, nobody can dispute it because it’s completely subjective.

2. “My intuition tells me that…” By explaining that you “sense” something – in your gut, in your heart, in your soul – your comment immediately becomes neutral and irrefutable. What’s more, speaking from intuition shows that you’re truly listening with your heart and from your core.

3. “That statement doesn’t sound consistent with your values.” The key here is to focus on the statement, not the person who made it. Doing so will automatically cause someone to stop, recognize their cognitive dissonance and reassess their behavior.

4. “I’m curious about that line of thinking…” This statement is observational and focused on the thought, not the thinker. Also, this language reinforces the initial goal of “entering the conversation with curiosity.”

REMEMBER: Listening is Archaeology.

It’s about entering the conversation with curiosity.
It’s about noticing people’s intangible tendencies.
It’s about excavating and illuminating truth.

Put on your Fedora and start digging.

How do you uncover priceless treasure in the archaeological dig known as listening?

For the list called, “53 Not So Obvious Patterns Listeners Need to Listen For,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

If they can’t come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott’s new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

NametagTV: The Listening Environment

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How are you using your ears as a sales tool?

For a list called, “31 Questions to Test Your Listening Skills,” send an email to me and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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17 Behaviors to Avoid for Effective Listening

Growing bigger ears isn’t just about what you DO.

It’s also about what you DON’T DO.

1. Don’t react.
Respond coolly, objectively and non-judgmentally.

2. Don’t think.
Just perceive without interpreting or labeling.

3. Don’t perform.
Because some people view listening as a performance.

4. Don’t tell someone not to feel a certain way.
This cheats her out of having her feelings.

5. Don’t get bored.
Because that means you’re focusing on the wrong person ☺

6. Don’t take over.
Instead, take IN the other person.

7. Don’t tell.
Instead, ask. (But not too many questions!)

8. Don’t give advice.
Unless someone asks for it.

9. Don’t usurp ownership.
Let the other person give birth to their ideas and realizations.

10. Don’t inflict your agenda.
Because listening isn’t about you.

11. Don’t one-up.
It’s a form of conversational narcissism.

12. Don’t use the other person’s comments as prompts for your clever little jokes.
It’s annoying and clearly motivated by self-interested.

13. Don’t speak.
Just stop talking for a while. Seriously. Let the silence make space for the other person to just BE.

14. Don’t impose your own structure.
Let the speaker pace the conversation.

15. Don’t fix.
That isn’t your job, and people don’t like to be “fixed.”

16. Don’t take too many notes.
Or else it will look like you’re too busy to listen.

17. Don’t ask, “Why?”
That word creates defensiveness.

What others behaviors should effective listeners avoid?

For a list called “27 Affirmations to Prepare Yourself to Listen,” send an email to and I’ll help you grow bigger ears today!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

If they can’t come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott’s new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

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