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Repeat, Reword, Say Why

Exercise Instructions


Participants should pair up and find an area to work together.  Online this can be done in breakout rooms.  If you are working with an uneven number, it is okay to have one group of three.

This exercise has three stages.


In the first stage each participant takes a turn sharing a true opinion that they hold.  Once the first person has shared an opinion, the second person repeats that opinion as close to word for word as they can. Encourage participants to capture and repeat every nuance of the original statement.  If person one says, “I have thought since childhood that golf isn’t really a sport,” then it is not enough to say, “Golf isn’t really a sport.”  Participant 2 needs to also capture that they “have thought” this “since childhood”.


In the second stage each participant takes a turn sharing a new opinion.  Participant 2 will repeat the opinion, only now they will do so in their own words.


In this stage, “I have thought since childhood that golf isn’t really a sport,” may become “As far back as I can remember, golf has always seemed like something other than a sport to me.”  Again, any words are fine, but all elements of the original statement need to be included in the reworded version


In the third stage each participant takes a turn sharing a new opinion. Now we switch from restating to supporting.

Participant 2 will agree with the initial statement by saying “Yes,” then restate the original statement, then say “Because” and finally conclude their participation by offering a reason in support of that statement.


So, in response to, “I have thought since childhood that golf isn’t really a sport,” Participant 2 might say something like, “Yes, you’ve always thought golf isn’t really a sport because other sports require much more physical activity, youthful vigor and conditioning.”

As an added challenge you might ask that the “because” be connected to a reason uncovered through empathetic listening.


Repeat, Reword, Say Why is a simple conversational improv game designed to improve listening skills. This exercise is particularly well suited sales professionals but can be effectively used to address listening skills with professionals in any field.  

  • Sales

  • Customer Service

  • Leadership/Management

  • Communication

  • Staying In The Moment

  • Public Speaking

Exercise Details

Number of Participants: 

Minimum: 2 participants / Maximum: 20 participants


Time Required:

Minimum: 25 minutes / Maximum:  40 minutes



This exercise works equally well in person or online.

Materials Needed:


Instructor Talking Points

Stage One

We’re simply working on one’s ability to mechanically hear and repeat a sentence in this stage. You can be upfront about this being the shallowest version of listening. 


If someone is having a difficult time with this particular stage it may be due to nerves.  Try mentioning the mantra, SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST.

Applied Mantra: Listen, Don't Invent

Stage Two

In this stage we are exploring listening comprehension.


The instructor should feel free to note even tiny nuanced differences between the original statement and the reworded one. If the original statement is “Everyone should exercise daily,” then “Most people should take the time to exercise every day,” can be noted for communicating a slightly different message.


While the difference may be slight the meaning matters greatly.  How impactful can a slight misunderstanding be when working in sales or customer service?  What if you work in management and only slightly misunderstand an employee?  What if you are delivering a presentation and an attendee asks a question?  How important is it that you fully grasp the true meaning of that question?

Applied Mantra: Listen, Don't Invent

Stage Three

Listening is not just understanding the technical meaning of words that have been spoken.  In this stage we are looking to listen for what is behind the words.


Participants should be instructed to add  “Becauses” that they think are true.  First they can work on logical “Becauses”. 


For example,


"Yes, everyone should exercise daily because it is good for their overall health."

Next, participants should try empathetic “Becauses”.

What are the feelings underneath the stated belief?

For example,

"Yes, you think everyone should exercise daily because you are concerned for their health."

Applied Mantra: Yes And...

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