Scott Ginsberg’s CBS Interview on Being More Listenable, Referable and Promotable

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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Are you puking thoughts at people or sharing messages with people?

There’s a reason you’re not getting through to people.

Your members.
Your customers.
Your associates.
Your volunteers.
Your employees.
Your congregants.
Your constituency.

IN SHORT: The people you serve on a daily basis.

Have you been wondering why nothing you say seems to stick?

HERE’S ONE REASON: You’re not packaging your thoughts into messages.

That’s the secret to both listenability and retainability. And the first step is to identify the difference between thoughts and messages. Here’s a helpful comparison:

A thought is local; a message is global.
A thought is a noun; a message is a verb.
A thought is the grist; a message is the gist.
A thought is edible; a message is digestible.
A thought is limited; a message is universal.
A thought is internal; a message is outgoing.

Which one are you delivering to people?

A thought is inaccessible; a message is relatable.
A thought has a limited shelf life; a message lasts forever.
A thought is raw material; a message is a polished product.
A thought is heard by the ears; a message is heeded by the heart.
A thought raises an important point; a message injects an important point.
A thought is a function of cognition; a message is a function of packaging.

Which one are you delivering to people?

A thought is the intellectual activity; a message is the interactional activity.
A thought can be understood eventually; a message can be repeated instantly.
A thought is is an informal inspiration; a message is an official communication.
A thought is something you conjure; a message is something you communicate.
A thought comes from your feelings; a message taps into other people’s feelings.

Which one are you delivering to people?

A thought raises a wall between people; a message builds a bridge connecting people.
A thought is a product of mental activity; a message is a product of spiritual creativity.
A thought drowns in the clutter of cognition; a message thrives in the economy of words.
A thought it a thing you conceive of in the mind; a message is a communication you send via messenger.

Which one are you delivering to people?

REMEMBER: If nothing seems to get through to people, don’t blame them.

Start by looking in the mirror.

Are you puking thoughts at people or sharing messages with people?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Turn Thoughts into Message,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

6 Ways to become a More Listenable Leader

1. Articulate strategy and ideas in plain language. The less jargon you use, the more engaging you become.

PRACTICE: In the writing world, shorter sentences get read. In the speaking world, shorter sentences get HEARD. So, think like a writer. Watch those long and cumbersome sentences. Don’t construct your ideas in a way that overburdens people’s brains.

For example, some leaders/managers spew one idea after another. Meanwhile, listeners are still stuck on the FIRST one, trying to figure out what heck you meant. Be careful. Non-brilliance might be forgivable, but time wasting isn’t. Keep your message lean, low-carb and plucked of nonessential words.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Could a fifth grader understand you?

2. Share information in a clear and concise manner. People are swamped, people are stressed, and they don’t have time to decode your hieroglyphics.

PRACTICE: As a writer, speaker and teacher myself, I’ve discovered the secret to raising receptivity. What’s more, the secret to making your messages more listenable, readable, digestible and learnable.

Three words: Meaningful Concrete Immediacy.

Here’s a rapid-fire list of strategies to do so: No jargon. Chunk ideas into small clusters. No stupid metaphors, bromides or unclear analogies like Dr. Phil loves to use. No vague language. Speak with value, not vanity. Hook moments to personal meaning. Get passion involved. Give people the meat. Zero into the heart of the matter. Package truth as nuggets. Meaningful Concrete Immediacy. Got it? Cool.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: How are you making it hard for people to listen to you?

3. Create a zone of respect around you without being overbearing. Those who build credibility into everything they do are listened to.

PRACTICE: Beware of unspecified attribution. This is my #1 pet peeve of all time. Delete the following vague, non-believable phrases from your vocabulary:

Studies show. Recent research proves. Scientists say. Psychologists report. Experts believe. They say. There’s an old story that says. I’ve heard. Most people agree. It is said that. Critics say. Statistics show. Somebody once said. The reviews say.

Um, no, they DON’T. None of that is good enough. In a conversation. In a speech. In an article. In a presentation. You need to PROVE your point. With facts. Sources. Numbers. Dates. Otherwise people have no reason to believe you.

Remember: Credibility comes from specificity. If you can’t cite a source, keep your mouth shut. Something isn’t always better than nothing.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What is preventing people from taking you seriously?

4. When it’s a technical matter, (still) speak English. The problem isn’t that people never listen to you; the problem is that you’re not a listenable person.

PRACTICE: Pamper people’s short-term memory. It can handle about seven bits of information at a time. (Ahem, phone numbers.) Your challenge is to do everything you can to accommodate its capacity.

So, include a structure that will serve as an index for the material, i.e., “This process has four steps.” Then, at the end, sum it up, i.e., “Ok, so, to review, the first step was…”

That’s the secret: Making it easy for people to organize and remember material.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: How could you send this message so it gets through the clearest and quickest?

5. Communicate reasons for changes and decisions. Assuming that people know why you’re doing ANYTHING is dangerous.

PRACTICE: Don’t defend yourself; explain yourself. Make your motivations and intentions crystal clear. When you tell people why, they’re more likely to (1) believe you, (2) understand you, and (3) respond TO you.

Otherwise, people’s guesswork of your expectations leads to sub par performance. And eventually, when you yell at them for screwing up, they’ll explain that it was YOUR cloudy communication that caused it. D’oh!

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What is causing you to be easily misunderstood?

6. Share relevant insights and personal experiences. Pointless stories with zero applicability may or may not cause death by boredom to set in.

PRACTICE: Yes, you honor people greatly with your openness; but you also annoy people enormously with your irrelevancy. So, here’s the secret: Make your ideas applicable and actionable. As in, “How does the story I’m about to tell affect this person’s daily life TODAY?”

Because if it doesn’t, don’t tell it. And look, I’m all for Managing by Storying Around (great book, btw). But for the love of God, if you DO tell stories, make sure they’re packaged with instant keepers and takeaways grounded in universal human experiences.

Fluff accomplishes nothing. As Steve Martin so eloquently put it in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, “Hey, here’s an idea: When you tell a story – have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Does your insight leave the impression of value or vanity in people’s minds?

Good luck!

When you talk, why do people listen?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” 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

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Check out Scott’s Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!

6 Ways to become the Most Listenable Person You Know

“Nobody around here ever listens to me!”

If you’ve ever said this before, there are two possible reasons why.

First, maybe you’re surrounded by poor listeners.

This is highly probable, as a large percentage of people suck at listening.

Of course, that’s the easy way out – to blame everyone else. To complain, but take no personal responsibility.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you’re not a Listenable Person?

I’m not saying that’s true. But it IS incredibly convenient to observe someone’s unapproachable behavior and immediately assume that it’s their fault.

When instead, you could turn inward and ask yourself:

“What is it in ME that might be causing this person to be unapproachable?”

So, the secret is not to “get people to listen to you,” but rather, to identify and embody the attributes of Listenable People.

Let’s explore six elements of what makes an employee (or any person, for that matter), listenable. As you read them, ask yourself three questions: (1) How good am I at this? (2) How could I improve on this? (3) Who do I know that currently does this, and how do I respond to it when they do?

1. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … listen first. Because I’ve written about four book’s worth of modules on listening, let me just give you the quickest, easiest, most effective summary of how to grow bigger ears:

o In ONE word: Patience
o In TWO words: Take notes.
o In THREE words: Don’t react; respond.
o In FOUR words: Dance in the moment.
o In FIVE words: Love them with your ears.
o In SIX words: Will this comment disrupt or contribute?
o In SEVEN words: Stop rehearsing what you’re going to say.
o In EIGHT words: Create a safe container where people can share.
o In NINE words: Facilitate the exploration of the other person’s immediate
o experience.
o In TEN words: Enable the person to give birth to their own understanding.

Then, when the time is right, make the transition. After someone appears to be finished speaking, try saying, “Have you said everything you need to say?” If they confirm, then ask, “Now that I’ve listened to your point of view, would you be willing to me share mine?” How big are your ears? How are you monopolizing the listening? And what would happen if you always let the other person speak first?

2. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … create a listenable environment. When you walk into someone’s office or sit down, start off by asking, “Is this a good time for you to listen to me?” If yes, proceed to speak. If not, ask them, “When would be a good time for you to listen to me?” These questions reinforce your commitment to creating listenable environments.

Also, be sure to remove listening distractions. If you’re having a conversation in your office, shut down your email and instant messenger programs. Turn off your cell.

Or, if you’re meeting someone in public, get there early so you can sit down first. Chose the chair that faces out into the busyness. That way your conversation partner will be facing a wall or booth backdrop where there are limited distractions.

This will keep him focused on you. This will keep him listening to you. Is this setting conducive to listening? What around you might be distracting someone from listening to you? How could you put yourself in the most listenable position?

3. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … are enjoyable. The word listenable simply means, “A pleasure to listen to.” So, that’s pretty simple. If you want people to listen to you, concentrate on (NOT) morphing into one of the following toxic personalities: complainers, whiners, criticizers, know-it-alls, conversational narcissists, assholes and emotionally overactive people.

These people contribute little (if any) positive value to encounters and are either avoided or ignored. Which one are you? Which one do other people perceive you as? Would YOU listen to you?

4. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … use hangars. A surefire strategy for becoming more listenable is to use Vocal Hangars. These conversational bookmarks attract people’s attention by building excitement around what you’re going to say next. Examples include:

o What if…
o The secret is…
o Here’s the deal…
o Let me ask ya this…
o Yes, and here’s why…
o Here’s the best part…
o Here’s the cool part…
o Think of it this way…
o Here’s my suggestion…
o Here’s the good news…
o What would happen if…
o And here’s the difference…
o I wonder what would happen…
o Well, there’s a distinction…
o Well there’s a secret behind it…
o Have you ever thought about this…
o The question I always ask myself is…
o Here’s what I want you to think about…
o I can answer that question in TWO words…
o The question you’ve got to ask yourself is…
o Think carefully before you ask this question…
o I have one observation and one question – are you ready? (my personal fave)

The secret to using Vocal Hangers is to pause ever so slightly right before you deliver the goods. This heightens the level of anticipation and energy into the conversation.

What’s more, the more you use them, the more you’ll internalize them.

The more you internalize them, the more natural they’ll sound.

The more natural they sound, the more they become part of your lexicon.

The more they become part of your lexicon; the more people begin to expect them.

And the more people begin to expect them, the more they pay attention when they hear them.

Now THAT’s listenable! What is your trademark Vocal Hanger? How do you elicit rapt interest? And what words or phrases used by others always captivate your attention?

5. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … are musical. Well, sort of. When you google the word listenable, the majority of the 205,000 pages that come up are related to music: Forums, message boards, concert reviews and record label blogs.

Each discussion points to a variety of bands and artists that are “listenable,” inasmuch as they are good for any mood/weather/situation and appeal to a wide, cross-generational audience.

IN SHORT: Listenable music is the band you watch for two hours without looking at your watch. Listenable music is the album you could spin on Repeat all afternoon and not even care that you’ve been listening to the same ten songs seven times in a row.

Your challenge is to extract those elements of listenability from the music world and teleport them into your daily interactions.

REMEMBER: If having a conversation with you is like blasting amateur screamo tunes at full volume, it’s going to be tough for people to listen to you. Can you relate to almost anybody? Would people love to be around you in a tense situation? And, during your conversations, are people thinking about booing you off stage, or raising their lighters for an encore?

6. LISTENABLE PEOPLE … aren’t unlistenable. Damn it. Double negative. Sorry. Anyway, when I googled listenable, I also did a search for unlistenable. What I found were people’s discussions on “unlistenable music.” They were fascinating. Here are a few of my favorite reviews:

o “If you take your date out to this concert, you ain’t getting’ lucky.”
o “I would never play this record for anyone for fear that they would uncontrollably start hurting me.”
o “I don’t really know how the song ended, as I didn’t get that far before running out of the room crying.”

Obviously, these reviews of unlistenable music are a bit extreme. But the parallels between music and interpersonal communication DO exist. So, here’s my suggestion:

STEP 1: Make a list called “Ten People Whose Conversations Make Me Want to
Commit Suicide with a Protractor.”

STEP 2: Under each person’s name, write three reasons WHY that person is difficult to listen to.

STEP 3: Compile a master list called “Characteristics of Unlistenable People” and post in your office.

STEP 4: Do the opposite. BE the opposite.

If you do this, I guarantee that the people you work with will start listening to you more. Who are the most unlistenable people you know? Where in your life do you make those same mistakes? What could you do instead?

– – –

REMEMBER: The secret is not to “get people to listen to you,” but rather, to identify and embody the attributes of Listenable People.

Commit to doing that, and soon you’ll never have to say, “Nobody around here ever listens to me!” again.

How will you become the most listenable person you know?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

Check out Scott’s Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!

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