The Listening Sandwich and Inspiring Others

Banter provides relational energy but don’t focus on yourself.

People enjoy hearing leaders talk about themselves as long as they don’t talk about themselves all the time.

The listening sandwich:

  1. Show interest in others.
  2. Share a bit about yourself (Banter).
  3. Show interest in others again.


A leader told me his word for 2018 is “Care”. We practice the “One Word” principle described in the book of the same name.

Instead of asking him a series of questions, I shared a bit of myself, “My word for 2018 is “Book”. For a moment, the conversation turned toward me.

When banter turns ugly:

Banter turns ugly when it becomes a monologue about yourself. 

Inspiring leaders make conversations about others. Yes, share a bit of yourself. Let people know what you think. But a series of machine-gun-questions makes people wonder what you’re after.

Banter lowers barriers.

From banter to curiosity and inspiration:

Banter – sharing a bit of yourself – sets people at ease.

I have questions about “Care” for my friend. The fact that he knows my “word” establishes a connection point as long as we discuss BOTH words.

I want to inspire my friend as he “cares” in 2018. The questions I have for him don’t feel like an inquisition because he knows my word.

Curiosity strengthens connection, nurtures humility, and inspires others.


  1. You’re already a caring leader. How did you happen to choose “Care” as your word for 2018?
  2. What’s important about caring?
  3. How will you take your Care-game to the next level?
  4. How’s your care-game going? 

Because he knows my word, curiosity about his word is vulnerability for me.

How might leaders employ the listening sandwich?

When is sharing about yourself out of line for leaders? Too much?

Endnote: Yesterday, Jon Gordon, author of, “The Power of Positive Leadership,” gave me permission to title a chapter, “Energy Vampires.”