Archive for the ‘Listening Skills’ Category


But You Never Told Me!

March 9, 2010

If you are anything like me, odds are there’s been a time (or 20) when you swore that “No one told me about the ___,” only to find out later that indeed you were told, but you hadn’t listened to the message. Why does this happen? There could be myriad reasons.

Perhaps the short video clip below will provide one of the reasons. NOTE: This video is safe to play at work or around your young children.

So what are some tips you can use to become a better listener, especially during International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association)?

[Originally posted in March 2008]


Become a Part of the Future of Listening

March 26, 2009

As a past president and life member of the International Listening Association, I urge you to read this note from the ILA Executive Director:

If you’ve been thinking of joining the International Listening Association (ILA), yet you keep putting off sending in your dues, then now is the BEST time for you to act.

In less than one week, membership dues are going to be increasing by 20 percent. Yet, if you join/renew before April 1 (traditionally referred to as April Fool’s Day), you will be, in essence, saving 20 percent.

At the annual convention this past week, the ILA membership voted to increase dues for all members by approximately 20 percent. Although we work hard to keep expenses as low as possible, as you know, costs have risen substantially since our previous increase in 2006. Dues for membership levels paid before April 1 (with anniversary dates before April 1) will remain at the current levels.

And if you are already a regular or student member, you should seriously consider a lifetime membership at the lower price of $1,000. Starting April 1, the price goes up to $1,5000 (or installments for five years of $350 for a total of $1750). In return, lifetime members receive reduced convention fees each year. All the current lifetime members would agree that this expenditure is very worthwhile.

You can complete a membership application or membership renewal online or download a PDF of the membership form. We look forward to seeing your name on the ILA membership roster!

Keep listening!

As always, 



Listening to Volunteers: Best Practices for Leaders

March 19, 2009

At the 30th annual convention of the International Listening Association, I had the opportunity to give this presentation today. If you download the presentation directly from SlideShare, you can see notes for each slide.


Live Tweeting #Listen09

March 15, 2009

Listening has always been social. And now it’s part of social media, too.

So that even more people can learn about the impact listening has on our lives, please join me (@barbaranixon) in live-tweeting the International Listening Association conference this week in Milwaukee, WI.

When you are in a session, or after a session is done, let others know your impressions of the highlights of the session using Twitter, a microblogging service, in 140-character messages. You can tweet from your computer (if you have wifi Internet access or from your cell phone by texting to 40404.)

  • Sign up for an account at Twitter or sign into your existing Twitter account.
  • Tell the name of the session and who the presenters are.
  • Distill highlights of the session into 140-character nuggets.
  • End each highlight with the “hashtag” #listen09
  • Read what others are saying about the ILA conference sessions by going to

Questions? Find me. I’ll be around at the conference (usually wearing pink & black). Or send me a tweet!

Follow Me on Twitter


How to Annoy Your Co-Workers

March 12, 2009

003/365 Annoy me by kingfal.Do you ever find yourself falling into any of these habits? If so, it’s likely that you’re annoying your co-workers.

  1. Interrupting your co-workers.
  2. Not looking at your co-workers while you are talking to them.
  3. Rushing your co-workers and making them feel that they’re wasting your time.
  4. Showing interest in something other than understanding your co-workers and their needs.
  5. Getting ahead of your co-workers who are speaking and finishing their thoughts for them.
  6. Not responding to your co-workers’ requests or questions.
  7. Saying, “Yes, but . . .,” when your co-workers ask you a challenging question, which can sound like you’re discounting their opinions or thoughts.
  8. Focusing on YOU and not your co-workers by topping your co-workers’ stories with “That reminds me. . .” or “That’s nothing, let me tell you about what happened to me. . .”
  9. Forgetting that your co-workers’ vocabulary may not be as large as yours, and using words that they don’t understand.
  10. Talking, when you should be listening.

Learn more about the impact listening has on our lives at the International Listening Association website:

Adapted from “10 Irritating Listening Habits” by Larry Barker & Kittie Watson, found in Listen Up: What You’ve Never Heard About the Other Half of Every Conversation.


Whole-Face Listening

March 11, 2009

Does you read the Rose is Rose comic strip? One time, the toddler son (Pasquale) admonished his mother (Rose) for being visibly distracted while the boy wanted her to be listening. Rose went about her business and assured her son that she was paying attention, even though she was not looking at him. Pasquale grabbed Rose by the cheeks and turned her head to that they made eye contact; he then said, “No, Mom, I want ‘whole-face’ listening.”

Many of you may know that I returned to school after being out for nearly two decades and ABD (All But Dissertation) from Capella University in training and performance improvement. Add this to my four children, husband, full-time position as a Georgia Southern public relations professor . . . and I know that I spend much less time “whole-face” listening than I ought to.

Though I’ve been interested in and researching listening for more than two decades, earlier this year, I learned of the concept of Level III listening in my Coaching for High Performance course. Whitworth, Kimsey-House, and Sandahl in Co-Active Coaching say that in Level III (or global) listening, it is “as though you and the client were at the center of the universe receiving information from everywhere at once” (1998, p. 37). I asked my peers learners from Capella how they feel when they are a part of Level III (or “whole-face”) listening. They responded that they feel:

  • Happy
  • Appreciated
  • Lucky
  • Complete
  • Gratified
  • Validated
  • Excited
  • Full of life

Even though I am a Life Member of the International Listening Association, I definitely have some challenges in listening. I can easily become distracted in a conversation, and find that I must work hard to focus at times on the other person. Perhaps my ADHD has something to do with this . . . but it’s just as likely that it is because I attempt to multi-multi-task. This is never helpful in building or maintaining a relationship!

Take time to listen. There’s power in listening.


Whitworth, L., Kimsey-House, H., & Sandahl, P. (1998). Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.



Too Busy to Listen?

March 10, 2009

Chinese juggler by tanakawho.This morning, I Googled the expression “too busy to listen,” and guess how many web pages used this expression? Get ready . . . wait for it . . . there were more than 207,000! A year ago, the same search garnered just 29,000 pages.  (Take the quotation marks off the search phrase and the total soars to 35 million.)

I wonder how many of us, in our day to day lives, ever say to another, “Sorry, I was just too busy to listen effectively”? I bet it would be more than we’d like to admit.

The Rev. Adrian Dieleman posted a sermon on his church website, where he shares “a ‘Dennis the Menace’ cartoon in the newspaper a few years ago illustrates this so very well. Dennis wanted to tell his parents something important. But he just couldn’t get their attention. They were too busy cleaning out the closet or something. Dennis even rang the doorbell. Finally, out of desperation, he deliberately dropped his mother’s crystal vase on the floor and broke it. Then, and only then, did his parents listen to him.”

Dieleman continues, “There are many parents who say ‘later’ or ‘don’t bother me now’ to their children. There are lots of people whose busy lifestyle does not allow them much time to visit elderly parents. There are many corporations that are so busy trying to capture new markets and make bigger profits that they don’t take the time to listen to the complaints, problems, or suggestions of their employees.”

What’s going on in your life? Family? Work? Volunteering? Oh yes, and time for yourself?

What happens when we make the choice not to listen? We harm relationships, we spend time in rework, and we miss out on an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes, that “someone” is ourself.

Take time to listen. There’s power in listening.

[Revised from a November 2007 post]