Archive for June, 2008


Appearances Are Important

June 29, 2008

On Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to hear the Rev. Jesse Jackson speak at the home of Dan Edelman.

What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, I know it’s a little blurry. I took it extremely quickly. Look to the right side of the photo. Someone in the audience is texting while Rev. Jackson was speaking, or at least he gave the appearance of texting. His head remained down with thumbs on the keyboard for at least a minute. Yikes.

Note to self: If I have the urge to send a message to someone, step to the back and do it surreptitiously, rather than remaining in the front row. Or, simply wait until the speaker has finished.



Debriefing Dilemmas

June 24, 2008

After watching a video or doing an in-class activity, it’s important to have some processing and discussion time afterwards. Here’s a technique I learned at The Poynter Institute.

Ask your students or participants these three questions:

  1. What did you learn?
  2. What surprised you?
  3. What do you now want to know more about?

I’ve found it particularly useful to let the students know ahead of time that I will be asking these questions. I also allow time for all students to write down their own answers to the questions before asking them to share their thoughts with others. (This is especially helpful for the more quiet or introspective students in the room.)

Depending on how large the class is and how much time I want to spend on the debriefing, I sometimes have them share their thoughts with the person next to them before opening up the discussion to the whole class.

Are there other (generic) questions you ask your classes?


Listen Through a Window, Not a Mirror

June 18, 2008
What’s a great way to listen to another person? As Michael Wade notes in his article from a recent US News & World Report: 

Look through a window, not a mirror. Don’t assume that the person means what you would have meant under similar circumstances.

Interesting approach, isn’t it? Let’s think about how “listening through a window” might work in practice.

As an educator of students in the Millennial Generation, it’s critical that I listen to my students through a window. For years, if I was planning on meeting someone somewhere, I might say, “We’re going to hook up later.” Now if I was to use the same expression in one of my classes at Georgia Southern University, I’d probably be met with snickers (and not the candy bar) from my students. Why? The term “hook up” has changed over the years. This doesn’t mean that I need to use their language, but I do need to be aware how my choice of words may be interpreted.

Wade contends that there are six ways to be a great listener. Rounding out his list are: 

  1. Listen for a theme.
  2. Recognize that the speaker might not know the real message.
  3. Subdue your ego.
  4. Act as if you are listening.
  5. Use an old investigator’s trick.

In future postings to Listening Matters, I’ll apply many of Wade’s other tips.

So, how can your life change if you listen through a window instead of a mirror? Please share your thoughts by commenting here at Listening Matters. 

Photo Credit: Thanks go to asmundur, who posted this gorgeous photo titled “In the Foyer” to Flickr.

Additional thanks to the International Listening Leaders Institute newsletter. This week’s Listening Leaders Lazer Lessons highlighted Wade’s US News & World Report article.