Do you remember Abbot and Costello? They were comediens who had a famous comedy routine called, Who’s on First?”  It went like this:

Abbott: Strange as it may seem, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names.

Costello: Funny names?

Abbott: Nicknames, nicknames. Now, on the St. Louis team we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third–

Costello: That’s what I want to find out. I want you to tell me the names of the fellows on the St. Louis team.

Abbott: I’m telling you. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third–

Costello: You know the fellows’ names?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The fellow playin’ first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first base.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: Well, what are you askin’ me for?

Abbott: I’m not asking you–I’m telling you. Who is on first.

Costello: I’m asking you–who’s on first?

Abbott: That’s the man’s name.

Costello: That’s who’s name?

Abbott: Yes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Abbott: Every dollar of it. And why not, the man’s entitled to it.

Costello: Who is?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: So who gets it?

Abbott: Why shouldn’t he? Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Who’s wife?

Abbott: Yes. After all, the man earns it.

Costello: Who does?

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: Well, all I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: Oh, no, no. What is on second base.

And on the skit goes! You can go here to watch this hilarous exchange, in which, the comediens poke fun at our tendency to not listen well, confuse another’s meaning, and generally, misunderstand when someone is trying to help us out.

We all think we listen well, but at times, our listening skills have morphed into our “listening to ourselves skills.” When we are talking so loud in our brains that we can’t hear what the other person is saying, we need to take a step back and listen first, before we try to influence others.

When you listen and understand a person’s point of view before you explain why something matters to you, that person is more likely to listen to what you have to say – Christine Jeffrey

Are you talking till you are “blue in the face” and you still can’t get someone to listen to you? Whether you are a business leader, teacher or parent, you will get better results if you use a framework that respects the other person’s point of view before explaining your own. The framework below can take you from “blue in the face”  to influencing others with grace that gets results.


  1. BREAK THE ICE AND GET ENGAGEMENT FAST –This step is the one most people forget when trying to get their point of view across. You don’t know where your listener has been before you meet him or her. Did they have a rough night? Did they just get out of a frustrating meeting? Are they in the middle of an important project and they had to break away to meet you? Remember to ask “what came before?”  People need a warm up period to be ready to hear what you have to say. Here are some Ideas for warm-ups and ice breakers:

  • Sharing fun facts
  • Engage in a Q and A that is thought-provoking
  • Share experiences around a particular topic

Doing these types of activities allows you to develop a common core experience that leads you to the next step.

  2. UNDERSTAND THEIR POINT OF VIEW – Steven Covey wrote, “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.” The reason this step goes before sharing your why is that you and I tend to have a lot going on in our brains, and in order to be open to another’s point of view, we need to clear out our brains of our opinions and ruminations. Ask questions that help you to get to the heart of what your listener thinks and feels – without judgment. When you do this, they will be more ready to hear what you have to say. because they feel you get them.

  3. COMMUNICATE WHY YOU CARE – In this step, you want to communicate clearly and effectively why you care about the topic. When people understand your explanation of why it is important, it is much easier to persuade them to see, accept or understand your point of view. Motive does matter and when you share yours, people don’t imagine or ascribe motive to you. Finally, when Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it”  he is tapping into a universal truth. We all want to know why so give them yours so they don’t have to imagine your motive. When people understand your definition of why the topic matters to you,  their ability to listen to you expands.

  4. EFFECTIVELY SHOW BENEFITS BOTH TANGIBLE AND EMOTIONAL – Next, When you share the tangible and emotional benefits of your point of view, it hits your listener in the gut. When we hear how our situation will improve and how we will feel because of those changes, you are able to generate more interest and cause your listener to pay closer attention. We all love good incentives, so make them count.

  5. ROLE MODEL THE WAY – In this final step, you need to be congruent in your approach. What that means is that you have to walk your talk by demonstrating the very way to behave with the information you want to share and get across to others. People listen to people who stand up for who they are and what they believe in!

In summary, when you get them to calm down and engage they will feel like they have space to think. When they feel understood and respected by you, they are more willing to listen to what you have to say. When you explain why you care and show the benefits, they are more likely to hop onboard, and when you role model the way, they will want to join you, or at least, acknowledge your position.

To enhance the effectiveness of this protocol even further, check out my post on difficult conversations here. It will give you a framework to understand better the dynamics of conversation and what to do about them.

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You got this. Leave a comment, ask a question, I’m here to help.

Thank you so much for reading and until next time,

Make the most of the time you have!

With love,

Coach “Tell’em why”