How to improve your listening


  1. Start by listening to the podcast episode.
  2. Don’t read the text. Listen only the first few times.
  3. Listen again while reading the transcript.
  4. Use the vocabulary button to the right to learn new words.

Hello there Kevin here with another episode of the feel good English podcast.

The only podcast out there, as far as I know anyway, that’s helping you become a more fluent English speaker, by listening to lessons based on the best nonfiction books.

Books on business, success, relationships, feeling good, feeling great.

Today I’m going to give you a few ideas on a book called “Give and Take. Why helping others drives our success.” This book is by Adam Grant, who is a professor at a very prestigious business school.

And in this book, the author argues that success depends on how we approach our interactions with others. So how we approach others, how we deal with other people is very, very important.

Going to talk about a few ideas from this book. If you want a transcript to this episode, go to where you will find out how to get transcripts to this and all the other episodes from the podcast.

So after the episode I will see you are, but first let’s get into the lessons on “Give and Take” by Adam Grant.


So let’s first talk about, a taker, what kind of person is a taker? Well according to the book, takers are self-centered. They only focus on what benefits they can get from others, what’s in it for them. People that basically only care about themselves. These people are takers. Everywhere they go, everything they do is about what benefits can they get out of the situation. Often when they talk, they promote themselves talking about I, me, my, as opposed to we, ours. So do you know people that are always just talking about what’s theirs, what they are doing, versus somebody who talks about what the group is doing or what is ours.

They might also flatter people to get ahead, to flatter is to talk good about somebody else, to make somebody else feel good, so they can eventually get ahead of this person. Somebody who is very good at making another person feel good earns that trust and then they smoothly and cleverly go past that person.

So why are these people so selfish? Why do they act like this? Well according to the author, they view the world as a competitive place. They think life is a ruthless game, where you need to get everything you want only helping others if it’s going to benefit you. So thinking about it I’m sure you can think of somebody in your life who is a taker. Often we look up to these people. We think they’re valuable because they might have a lot of money or they have a good position, a good job, and again I’m just talking about the book, not really judging right or wrong. Most people would probably say selfish people are wrong but sometimes it does take this competitiveness to move ahead, even though a lot of takers are bad we also have takers that are not evil, not corrupt. Think of athletes that do really well, often they are focused on their own game because they are so good, they’re the ones that make the points, that score the shots. You give them the ball, they’ll take it all the way down the field and shoot the goal, because often they make it. To be as successful as they have been, they do need to be selfish sometimes, but in general a taker is somebody who thinks there is a limited amount available of whatever that may be to everyone, so they have to work really really hard to get the most out of every situation.

Next idea, a giver, what’s a giver? Well givers are driven by the desire to help others and to create success for the group. Isn’t it great when somebody goes out of their way to help you? They don’t really have anything in it for them. They’re not expecting a benefit but they still go out of their way to give you something, to help you, to make you feel better, to help move you ahead. Well these are givers.

A basic trait of a giver is somebody who gives more than they get. It’s pretty obvious. They’re generous with their time, with their resources, with their money. They remain focused to provide value for other people. They get rewards by helping others because it makes them feel good. So can you think of a giver in your life, are you a giver? Somebody who constantly goes out of their way to help you.

There’s also something called a matcher. Now a matcher is in-between, in the middle and this is a fair exchange basically. I’ll do something for you if you do something for me. They make sure they keep a balance of how much they’ve given and how much they’ve received. “Tit for tat” is an expression here. You ever heard the expression tit for tat. A tit for a tat just means, this for that, this for that. I’ll give you this if you give me that.

Matchers in general try to be fair with everybody. They don’t judge as much. I would definitely consider myself a matcher. I like to help but I also don’t want to feel that I’m always giving everything away. I like to feel that there’s a balance within relationships. I also feel uncomfortable if I feel that I’m giving too much and not getting enough back or vice versa. I probably feel even more uncomfortable when I feel somebody is helping me too much. They’re giving me a lot of help, doing a lot for me and I’m not able or not willing to give as much back, then I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a good thing. I think it’s important to be able to receive and to get help, and also to let other people help you sometimes. People feel good about helping and if you don’t let them help you, well they won’t feel good. That’s not good, this is the most logical way between the three. Not give too much, not take too much, we match humans as being safe, logical, rational. This is where most of us would fall and this is the most common in business as well right. You have a product or a service, you give an equal amount of payment for that service. So there’s a match there.


So now a few reasons why givers move so far ahead, kind of changing our mentality of, do we need to always be equal in everything we do or can we give more than we take? According to the book givers often achieve top positions in society because they focus on the greater good. The greater good meaning the overall good, the good for everybody. Many people think that taking is more effective than giving in achieving professional success. Competitive at work, cutthroat is a word here, something, if you have a cut throat precision. If you have a cutthroat profession that means everybody is trying to cut each other’s throat to get ahead. That’s not fun, but a smart giver, often succeeds even more in a situation.

Thinking of this maybe you know somebody at work or at school or just in your life that was always very generous with people, always helping. Now they had goals, they had things they wanted to accomplish but they weren’t selfish with these goals. They were very helpful and they always supported the team, other people and behind that was hard work of course. And eventually, they got ahead. They got to the top. I think what this creates is a network of people that really support this person. If somebody is nice to everybody, they’ll have a lot of people behind them supporting them. Most people aren’t this way. Most of us want a giver around. We feel good with these people.

Some givers are taken advantage of, of course. They give too much but the ones that are focused on a goal, they have their target in mind, yet are able to support other people on the path to this target, often end up being very successful.

Something you can do to implement this, is always think of who can do something better than you can. If people are looking for a service or job, maybe you know somebody who can do it better than you. So you recommend this person and this person gets some work, some help. They’ll remember you of course. And so in the future, this could be reciprocal, reciprocal meaning they will help you out in the future too. People remember these good deeds.

We often worry that we’re never going to succeed if we include other people in our plans. However I believe it and according to the book, successful givers cultivate and use their networks to benefit others as well as themselves.


The last idea I’m going to talk about here is about powerless communication. Powerless communication puts givers at a powerful advantage, a lot of power going on here. Recent studies in the book have shown that instead of being very aggressive and assertive with your language we can succeed by communicating in a powerless way. Powerless just means focusing on the other person, asking questions, seeking advice from the other person, as opposed to only giving advice yourself. Being domineering, talking about yourself, only giving advice can evoke resistance in the other person. They are a little intimidated by you or they don’t feel really good around you and if they don’t feel good around you they probably won’t want to be around you very much, correct?So being powerless, giving the attention to the other person helps them feel better. This is very cool. I’ve talked about this in other podcast episodes, but focus on the other person when you’re talking about them. Let them feel important when they’re around you and they will help you become important in the future. Bam that was a slick phrase there, huh?

And one thing behind this is if you bring others in, if you show them care about their ideas and their needs. They will trust you more, they’ll come to you more often. So instead of forcing your demands on others, it creates a more receptiveness in the people that you have in your network. And it persuades others to be more open to you, which helps you do what you want more in the future, correct?


So some of the basic ideas from this book, a taker somebody who takes. They think there’s only so much of any resource that they need to get as much as they can. Very common in today’s society, people want more more more more, greed. Do you know what greed is, greed? Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and I think it will be the downfall of the human race, or what makes us fail if that happens, wanting more more more.

Personally, I’ve seen the highest up positions, the people at the top of the company are usually very generous, very giving and the ones under them, not as much. Interesting thing I’ve noticed. Givers, givers want to help others, they see fulfillment in making sure others get their chance too when they do this intelligently they get very far.

Most of us, however, are matchers, we like a fair balance, “tit for tat.”

So what do we do? Action step for the day, focus on powerless communication focus, on giving the power in a conversation to the other person, that’s how you can give today, give this week. Give them the attention, give them the stage, give them the soapbox, meaning they can stand on a soapbox and talk, so they’ll feel better around you, so they’ll trust you, so they’ll reciprocate these feelings to you in the future.


That will do it for today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening. All those givers and takers and matchers out there.

If you’re a taker, thanks for taking the time to listen to the episode.

If you’re a giver, thanks for giving me your time today.

And if you’re a matcher, well I don’t really know how to answer that one. Maybe, yeah I don’t know, anyway, until the next episode, stay happy, give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me.

Bye bye!

How to improve your speaking/writing


  1. Start by listening to the vocabulary lesson
  2. Don’t read the text. Listen only the first few times.
  3. Listen again while reading the transcript.
  4. Answer the questions in the audio, to yourself, out loud. Pretend you’re talking to me. 😉
  5. Write or speak your answers to the questions with one of the two options below

This is the vocabulary lesson for “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. So, let’s get into it.

The first expression here self-centered. Well, this means you are centered around yourself. A self-centered person this is a negative thing, they are always focused on themselves and their own problems, their own issues, their own life in general. Another way to say this would be self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, talked about seeking before, somebody who was always just interested in their own life and what they can get? What they can’t get? What problems they’re having? If you know somebody who is self-centered they often just talk about themselves, their problems. They’ll always be willing to talk about themselves to you and they also probably won’t really be interested when you’re talking about your own issues, your own problems. They’ll kind of turn off because their world is centered around them.

  1. So, do you know anybody who is self-centered?
  2. Why do you think people are self-centered? What causes someone to be self-centered?
  3. And how do you deal with self-centered people? Everybody is different? We can’t expect everybody to be exactly how we want them to be. So how do you deal with people that are self-centered? Or maybe you are a little self-centered? How do you plan on dealing with that?

Next expression here. What’s in it for me? What’s in it? What is in it for me? Or what’s in it for him? When you use this expression it means what’s the benefit for me? Or what do I get out of it? “It” is just the situation. So, what’s in it? What’s in the situation for me, that I can benefit from? So, if you’re having a business deal, if you’re talking business with somebody; they say “oh we’re going to buy your store and make it totally new, and change it.” You’d say well what’s in it for me? How am I going to benefit, how am I going to profit from this?

Next word here is to flatter it’s a verb to flatter somebody or we can say to flatter. Sounds like a “d” to Flatter; to flatter somebody is to make somebody feel special, to make them feel honored, to make them feel delighted. If a woman is wearing a very nice dress, you say “Oh, I love that dress. You look wonderful in that dress.” That would be you flattering that woman and the woman might say “oh stop flattering me.” Sometimes, we think somebody is flattering us just to try to win us over to try to get our affection or tried to gain our respect. But to flatter, she flattered me when she told me how handsome I was.

  1. So, think about it when was the last time  you felt flattered by somebody?
  2. When was the last time you flattered someone?

Next expression here is to go out of your way or go out of one’s way. When we go out of our way it means that we go out of our normal routine or what’s convenient for us to help somebody else. So, it’s not an easy favor, it’s not something that we can just do naturally or without thinking about it. We have to intentionally break our routine, go out of our comfort zone maybe spend money we don’t have, do something that’s not very convenient for us to help somebody else. So, if somebody buys you something that you know they might not have been able to afford. Meaning they didn’t really have the money for that. You would say “wow you really went out of your way to buy this gift for me didn’t you?” Or you could say “you didn’t have to go out of your way to buy me such a nice gift.” So, question time for you….

  1. Has anybody ever really gone out of their way for you? Have they helped you or given you something that was really generous and showed a lot of attention and respect? Tell me about it.
  2. And now your turn, when have you gone out of your way to help someone?

Next word here is cutthroat; talking about a cutthroat job, cutthroat profession. Well if you think of cutting someone’s throat literally with a knife you cut their throat, it’s pretty; that’s a pretty intense image. However, when we talk about something that’s cutthroat, for example a cutthroat business, means it’s just very highly competitive, you say “oh I want to be a successful lawyer” and somebody, your father might say “well that’s a really cutthroat profession”, meaning it’s very competitive. There’s a lot of people trying to become a lawyer, trying to become a successful lawyer. Often, it’s competitive in a negative way, in a ruthless way meaning people will take advantage of you. They will do unethical things to get ahead of you. They will cheat, steal, lie, all of those things to get ahead of you, to get what they want. So very competitive very ruthless. Ruthless meaning people don’t care about your feelings or your health or your safety. It’s a cutthroat world out there. If you had a negative view of the world, if you think everybody was competing, everybody was trying to get ahead, you’d say it’s a cut throat world out there. Or maybe you are you are at a company and there’s some people that work there that treat the job in a very cutthroat way. They think it’s very cutthroat. They think everybody is doing whatever they can to become the boss, to become the supervisor.

This next one is quite interesting. And this is because it has two different meanings depending on how you use it. To take advantage of in the text here. I use it as some givers are taken advantage of; of course, if a person is taken advantage of or if you take advantage of a person, it’s a bad thing. It’s negative. You are using them for your own purpose, for your own goals and intentions. And it could harm or hurt the other person. So, a giver who always gives to everyone might be taken advantage of because people know they will give them what they want, so they ask them for a lot of things. They are always using them to get what they want. So, don’t take advantage of people and watch out, so, you’re not taken advantage of.

  1. Question for you. When was the last time you were taken advantage of?
  2. You ever taken advantage of somebody. Tell me about it. When was the last time you took advantage of somebody?

The other way is if we take advantage of a situation or a thing, and this is actually a good thing. You can’t negatively take advantage of a thing or a situation, unlike a person. So, you could say take advantage of your free time to practice and listen to English. That’s a positive thing. Take advantage of your vacation time, to learn a new skill or to spend time with your family. Take advantage of the new production studio to create things, to create your projects. So you have things at your disposal things that you can use or time that you can use or situations that you can use for your benefit.

  1. So how do you take advantage of your free time to improve your life? That’s the question. How do you take advantage of your free time to improve your life?
  2. How are you going to take advantage of your day, of your week, to become more confident in English. What action steps are you going to apply? To take advantage of the free time that you do have in your day, even if it’s only 10 minutes to improve your English?

Another verb here to evoke: to evoke is to bring or recall to the conscious mind. To evoke a memory or to evoke a feeling; stimulate. “When I saw her it evoked feelings of jealousy” Let’s say you had an ex-girlfriend and she cheated on you. And every time you see her it evokes that same feeling of jealousy, the memories come back and it evokes those negative memories. Or maybe when you go home you visit your parents. You walk into the house. It has the same smell, that it evokes pleasant memories of childhood, pleasant memories of when you were a kid; the smells and the sights and the sounds evoke pleasant memories instead of you. They awaken, stimulate pleasant feelings.

So, let me ask you this. What kind of feelings are evoked when you know that you’re going to have to speak English; let’s say it’s an English class, maybe at work, conference call, a meeting. What kind of feelings are evoked, when you know there is an English-speaking situation coming up in your life? What kind of feelings are evoked in this situation?

Deep philosophical question, let’s say negative feelings are evoked with certain; in certain situations. How can you deal with those emotions? Or how can you change what feelings are evoked in situations when they are negative, and you don’t want those feelings to come up? You don’t want to experience those emotions in those situations. What can you do to stop those feelings from being evoked?

Next word is slick. I said that’s a slick phrase there, kind of being a little arrogant. But I said “let them feel important when they’re around you and they will help you become important in the future” So, I just thought that was pretty clever and slick is that clever, kind of smooth, smart. Slick literally means very kind of slippery. If you talk about an oil slick, oil spills onto the road. It makes the road slick, makes it slippery. Basically, things move very quickly across the surface. It’s a very slippery smooth surface. But we also can say it’s a slang word; “that’s slick” meaning that’s smooth. That sounds pleasant it’s very easy to listen to or it’s very cool. Another synonym would be cool; cool and slick are pretty much the same. You could say “that’s a slick hat” or “a slick pair of shoes.” So, slick; cool little slang word there.

  1. Question for you. What’s the slickest thing that you own?

Next word is greed, one of the sadly seven deadly sins. So, greed if you think of greed; think of rich men taking all of the money for themselves. They can’t satisfy a craving for more. This could be with money, food, status, power. Somebody is greedy, they want more and more for themselves. That’s why I say “I think it would be the downfall of our society of our world” meaning the end of our world. I think a big problem is greed. These days people want more and more; money, more resources, more power, bigger houses, more for them which means less for others. So, if you’re greedy; in your greed is out of control, you can do a lot of damage. So be careful with greed.

Last one here is an expression we talk about a soap box or standing on your soap box. Soapbox is a wooden box, that is very old you used to have soap in it, but basically, it’s maybe, I don’t know one foot off the ground which would be in centimeters… I’m not sure how many centimeters are in a foot, if you have that answer let me know. You can just Google it, but you stand on something that raises you off the ground, so you can talk to people. We use it figuratively when somebody is trying to preach to other people, trying to get their point across to everyone, to everybody, saying they’re standing on their soap box. This person who thinks he’s so important; he’s always standing on his soap box talking to people. Meaning he always wants everybody to listen to him and he thinks he has the best things to say, just a little expression there.

And that’s it for the vocab lesson today. So, I left some questions in there. First you want to go through this listen to it a few times. Answer these questions to yourself. If you need to pause after I ask the question to give yourself some more time, you can do that. Answer these questions aloud use your voice speak out loud, practice speaking even to yourself.

After you do that, you can use the button below here. Send me a message and you can practice with me. Best if you don’t write your answers down because I want you to practice speaking not writing. So just speak from the mind. Practice speaking. Hit the record button and speak. Do this naturally without writing, without planning. That’s the way to do it. 

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