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How One Word Can Make You Sound Like a Good Listener


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"Honey, I got fired this afternoon. "
"Wow. "

"Boss, I lost the Gregory Account today. . . "
"Wow. "

"Dude, I'm thinking about moving to Pamplona!"
"Wow. "

"Yes, um, your airline recently lost both of my bags!"
"Wow. "

- - -

"Wow. "

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 unreactive 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 solution.

That's what WOW does.

It's only one word.

It's only one sentence.

And yet, it's still a powerful practice for growing bigger ears.


Are you wow-ing people enough?


For the list called, “13 Roles of the Listener" send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

© 2007 All Rights Reserved.
Scott Ginsberg, aka “The Nametag Guy, " is an author, speaker, award-winning blogger and entrepreneur. As the creator of, he teaches people how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business. To rent Scott's brain, call 314/256-1800 or email


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