Do You Listen Like a Fifth Grader?

My fifth grade teacher was a horrible woman. She was mean and strict and I’m pretty sure an understudy for the Wicked Witch. And yet, I badly wanted to please and impress her.

Every day, school was like a game show and we did our lessons and listened to her intently…except for the part when she asked the question. Then, hands shot in the air and we did our best monkey impressions (“O-o-o-o-o-o-o…!!!!!!!) in an effort to be selected by the aquaphobic broom rider.

This experience is recalled often (too often) when I speak to salespeople. My sentences are cut off and I am interrupted. No one imitates a monkey, but the experience has a familiarity to it just the same. Suddenly, I’ve become my fifth grade teacher.


A good listener uses not only his or her ears but the entire body. Eyes are locked on the speaker. The head bobs up and down in agreement. Leaning into the speaker demonstrates interest.

And absolutely, positively no interruption.

When we think of the traits of being a good salesperson, often times the skill set is focused on persuasive abilities and charm and aptitude and knowledge and intelligence. Somewhere down the list is the art of listening.

Your goal is to make the speaker feel as though he or she is the most important person in the room and that his or her word holds great value to you. What a gift it is to be a good listener!

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of printed reps and selling owners. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
Related Content
  • Travis Lewis

    Yes Bill, you are the wicked aquaphobe with flying monkeys at your disposal.

    You bring up some good basic points that so many of us know, but either forget about, or ignore completely. They are:

    1. Give full attention – You might miss something if you let your mind wander.
    2. Focus on both the verbal & non-verbal communication
    3. Give feedback (the other person may be unconsciously looking for this).
    4. Be polite, and not interrupt.

    Thank you again Bill for your posts.