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					                            The art of listening - Teaching listening skills

                                Worksheet 1 - Herb Cohen

                                   You’re going to hear New York negotiating and business guru,
                                   Herb Cohen, talking at a seminar on the art of negotiation to a
                                   group of American business and sales people.

                                   buzzwords         = often used words or phrases (esp. in business)
                                   one heck of a lot         = a lot
                                   inept            = incompetent
                                   Kenny Rogers = singer of ‘The Gambler’, a song about an expert
                                                      poker player

                                   Before you listen

                                   1        What things do you have to negotiate in your work?
                                   2        Are you a good negotiator or not especially?
                                   3        What do you think is the key to being a good negotiator?

While you listen (first part)

1       What is more important than technical competence for him?
2       What are some of the things his audience has to negtotiate?
3       What does he compare negotiating to?

While you listen (second part)

1       What does he say about negotiating for yourself and for others?
2       How does he make his living?
3       What is the key to negotiating a good deal?

After you listen

What is the key piece of advice in his presentation?
How easy do you think it is to follow this? What are the obstacles?
Herb Cohen – Missing words and fixed phrasess

I spend a great _______ of my time negotiating on ________ of others.

In fact, to be honest with you, that’s how I really earn a ________ _________.

I try to have as my ________ very wealthy __________: large corporations with

______ dollars to spend. I operate on their behalf in _____-_______. And the

way I am compensated: I get a ______, a _______ percentage of an _________

deal. This works _____ well for _______ and my family, and so I must be

pretty ______ _____ doing that. Yet when I negotiate on behalf of myself I am

close to ______. I am _______. Now why is that the ______? Do you believe

it’s because I am lacking in ______-________? Let me assure you that is not so.

I like ______ one heck of a lot. In fact if I could be ______ effective for myself

and ______ effective for you, I would _______ it that way. But in truth I am

_______ for you. Why? Because I don’t ______ _______ you. You know what

I mean. I _______ about you, but not _______ much.
                             Good listener / Bad listener

Bad listener                                 Good listener
Pre-judges the speaker                       Keeps an open mind

Forms an opinion before they’ve finished     Waits before forming an opinion

Makes no comment on what the other is        Responds with positive ‘noises’

Assumes the other person has said all they   Asks questions to get more information
have to say

Relates everything to their own experience   Is prepared to look at things from a new

Loses concentration                          Concentrates hard on what is being said

Becomes impatient and fidgety                Stays relaxed and attentive

Bad listener                                 Good listener
Pre-judges the speaker                       Keeps an open mind

Forms an opinion before they’ve finished

Makes no comment on what the other is

Assumes the other person has said all they
have to say

Relates everything to their own experience

Loses concentration                          Concentrates hard on what is being said

                                             Stays relaxed and attentive
                                   Common learner anxieties

A       How do you as teacher respond to these common complaints / anxieties?

Student :

1 “I want to hear every word”

2 “I understand you but not other native speakers”

3 “I’m fine one-to-one, but I struggle in group meetings”

4 “By the time I have formulated a response the conversation has moved on”

5 “I’m an expert in my field but I feel like a novice when conversing in English”

6 “I find listening for extended periods very tiring”


1 Of course you do, and that’s what we’re aiming at but you must understand that we don’t always
hear every word – we construct meaning from what we hear and when we can’t we ask.

2 I make concessions to you being a non-native; not all people do. You need to ask them to slow
down a bit. (Anecdote – training to native speakers)

3 Connected to 4 Difficulty in keeping up is difficult. Learn strategies of extemporizing; checking
meaning while you formulate your response etc.

5 Prepare and be sure that you can communicate your main ideas in English. Keep your sense of self
and don’t worry about asking til you get to the point

6 Practise listening to English in the background – this will help

A        Could you lend me a fiver?
B        I don’t know. What do you want it for?
A        I’m going to buy a car with it.
B        Shall we be serious for a minute?

A        I’ve got to get a book of stamps.
B        What kind of stamps do you need?
A        One of the ones for a large letter.
B        Shall I just lend you one? I think that would be simpler.


A _____________________________________________


A ____________________________________________

B ____________________________________________


A        Where are Ann and Alan?
B        Ann’s out and Alan’s away.
A        When do you think Ann’ll be in again?
B        Not for another hour, I’m afraid.


1        It’s not a model for a business that could be repeated.

2        They were forbidden from showing the advertisement in Saudi Arabia.

3        They offered the families a thousand dollars each in compensation.

4        It represents a significant development in the war against terrorrism.
Formulaic phrases that we say quickly

First of all
In the first place

Let’s be honest
To be frank

Despite that
Be that as it may

As far as I’m aware
Off the top of my head
Between you and me

All things considered
As things stand
In the scheme of things

All being well
With a bit of luck

On the whole
Generally speaking
On average

At the end of the day
In the end
When all’s said and done

On reflection
Thinking about it
On balance
                            Social conventions
That would be great.
I’d love one.
Good idea.

Don’t mention it / Not at all
You shouldn’t have

Let’s hope so
I doubt it
I’m afraid not

I couldn’t tell you
Don’t worry
Sure, go ahead

See you later
So it seems

Sorry to keep you
Fancy a drink?
Shall we take a break?
How are you?
What’s up?
                        Weak forms and negatives

1) Practise saying these and mark the weak forms

A: It was wrong of him to take some clients with him

B: It wasn’t wrong of him to take some clients with him.

C: They were expecting to have finished by now.

D: They weren’t expecting to have finished so soon.

E: We have been preparing for the launch for several months.

F: We haven’t fixed a precise date for the launch yet.

2) Fill in the missing weak forms in this story of a missing man

1 He ______ last seen getting off ______ train _____ _____ railway station

2 No-one knows what he ______ ______ doing since then.

3 ______ police _____ concerned ______ he might ______ gone into hiding.

4 But _____ search ______ the area _______ produced no results.

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