Archive for the ‘listening’ Category


Live Tweeting #Listen10

March 10, 2010

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 Albuquerque, NM.

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” #listen10
  • 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


9 Ways to Make the Most of #Listen10

March 8, 2010

Just I have done for most of the last 20 years, I will be attending and presenting at the International Listening Association convention again this year.

Last week, USA Today’s Brian Dresher posted his tips on making the most of South by Southwest. These were great tips. I asked him if I could borrow liberally from them, and he said “sure thing.” So here goes.

  1. Don’t feel compelled to attend a session at every time one is offered. If you do that, it’s a quick recipe for listener burnout. (And I should know. I used to think it was impolite to sit out a session or two. Now I realize it’s more impolite to be zombie-like in a session than it is to be absent from a session.)
  2. Plan ahead to meet informally with the people you need to see. Check the program to see who is presenting and chairing; that will help you know who will be there.  Realize that the presenters and chairs will be fairly busy right before and after their sessions.
  3. Stay healthy. Make wise choices about your meals and snacks, and drink plenty of water. I usually buy a case of water to keep in my hotel room and make it a goal to finish it off before the conference is over.
  4. Attend a panel or presentation outside your usual area of interest. If you’re an academic, try some of the business panels. If you’re in the helping professions, see what the K-12 educators have to say.
  5. Say hello! ILA members are among the friendliest people I’ve come across. Even if this is your first ILA convention, feel free to introduce yourself. You might even get a hug (that’s a warning).
  6. Arrive early to the popular panels. Sit near the front so you can really engage with the presenters.
  7. Bring a power strip. You can make LOTS of friends, especially in airports, if you are willing to share your power with others.
  8. Bring lots of business cards. Even in this mostly electronic age of ours, one of the best ways to exchange contact information is through a business card. I make my own, and I include my photo on the back, to make it easier for people to connect my name and face.
  9. After the conference, send thank you notes to presenters who made an impact on you. And when I say “thank you note,” I don’t mean an e-mail. I mean a real, handwritten and mailed via USPS note.

So, those are my 9 best tips for making the most of the International Listening Association convention. Do you have a 10th tip to offer?

(PS — I bet these tips would hold true for most communication-related conventions, too.)

[Cross-posted from my Public Relations Matters blog.]


Listening: A Matter of Faith

March 8, 2009

GSU Botanical Garden by you.[Republished from July 28, 2008]

The little child whispered, “God, speak to me.” And a meadowlark sang. But the child did not hear. So the child yelled, “God, speak to me!” And the thunder rolled across the sky. But the child did not listen. The child looked around and said, “God let me see you.” And a star shone brightly. But the child did not notice. And the child shouted, “God show me a miracle!” And a life was born. But the child did not know. So the child cried out in despair, “Touch me God, and let me know you are here!” Whereupon God reached down and touched the child. But the child brushed the butterfly away and walked away unknowingly. Take time to listen. Often times, the things we seek are right underneath our noses. Don’t miss out on your blessing because it isn’t packaged the way that you expect. — Anonymous
The ear trieth words as the mouth tasteth meat. — Job 33:16

Take heed then how you hear… — Luke 8:18

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear…with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. And unto you who hear shall more be given. — Mark 4:23-24

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how. — Thomas Merton

Let thy ear be attentive. — Nehemiah 1:6

Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance. — Proverbs 1:5

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent and discerning if he holds his tongue. — Proverbs 17:28  

He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.     — Proverbs 18:13

Listen children and be attentive, that you may gain insight.     — Proverbs 4:1 

Live with men as if God saw you, and talk to God as if men were listening. — Athenodorus\

To listen to some devout people, one would imagine that God never laughs. — Ghose Aurobindo

If you were once connected with someone, does it make sense that the connection is broken just because of a physical death? No, the connection stays. You may just have to listen differently. You may just have to talk differently. The truth is: the connection is never broken. — Chris Collins

The reason we listen to individuals with receptivity and respect is that we never know whom the Spirit of Christ might choose to speak through on any given occasion. — Martin B. Copenhaver

If we have listening ears, God speaks to us in our own language, whatever that language be. — Mahatma Gandhi

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.— James 1:19

One of the things that makes God different from people is that God is always available to listen. —Rabbi David Wolpe

Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff. But unless they are talking to you, stay out of it. Indiscriminate eavesdropping is a threat to parental sanity. — Catherine M. Wallace


Listening Vultures

March 3, 2009


[Reposted from April 2008]
We moved to Georgia last summer, and one thing I noticed right away was the beautiful birds that soared in the sky, catching updrafts of wind and floating, rarely flapping their wings. Must be a raptor of some sort, hawks or eagles, I thought. Maybe even condors! 

Beautiful, I thought. Simply beautiful.

That is . . . until I saw what they did during the other part of their lives, when they weren’t flying. These were no hawks or eagles or condors. Instead, they were turkey vultures. Ick!

Today, while driving down a back road, my kids and I came across about thirty-five turkey vultures on the side of the road. I slowed the car so the kids could see. The birds stayed right where they were, almost frozen into place, until I got out of my car to snap a photo. Then they flew up and roosted in some tall trees.

Listening Buzzards

This got me thinking . . . I think I’ve met a few “listening vultures” in my life. You’ve met them, too. They’re the ones who hang out in the hallways or at the fringes of a party, eavesdropping on people’s discussions. But as soon as anyone tries to draw them into the conversations, off they fly (metaphorically speaking). They don’t often go far. They’ll circle around until they think no one is noticing them, then they land so they can go about their business.

At their best, listening vultures are simply shy. At their worst, listening vultures feed off the words of others, then fly off to spread their disease with unsuspecting other people, gossiping about what they heard (or thought they heard).

So what can we do about the listening vultures that we meet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Growing Our Listening Legacy

March 1, 2009

Join listeners and speakers from around the world this month (March 2009) at the International Listening Association’s 30th Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI.

I’ll be presenting at this conference two times. One presentation will be on using social media in the college classroom; the other will be on the importance of listening to volunteers.

Join me there!

International Listening Association Past President & Life Member


What Are Words For?

July 2, 2008

In the words of Missing Persons (band from the 1980s), what are words for? They serve many purposes, but the one I chose to write about today is this: some words are just fun to say! And they may make people smile when they listen to you.

Using an extremely informal, unscientific poll on Twitter today, I asked some of my tweeps what their favorite words to say are. In a Wordle, they are:

Words that are lots of fun to say

So, what are some of your favorite words? Comment below, and I’ll add to the Wordle later this week.

And in case you haven’t seen “Words” by Missing Persons, have fun!


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.