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: http://www.listen.org.

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]


Listen Through a Window, Not a Mirror

March 8, 2009
What’s a great way to listen to another person? As Michael Wade notes in his article from 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.

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.

[Adapted from a post from June 2008]

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


Songs About Listening

March 7, 2009


Flower with music by tanakawho.As I was researching materials for a session at the International Listening Association‘s annual conference in March 2009, I wondered how many songs had the word “listen” in the title. I was surprised at what I found. According to Leo’s Lyrics (my favorite source for song lyrics), 133 songs by various artists appeared; to see the complete list, visit Leo’s Lyrics.

My favorite song titled “Listen” is by the Christian band Poor Baker’s Dozen, from its “Go Stop Go” CD.  Here’s a snippet from the song: Listen 

Artists including  Beyonce, Chicago, Collective Soul, Goo Goo Dolls, Tears for Fears and Toad the Wet Sprocket also have songs simply titled “Listen.” Below, you’ll find a sampling of the titles and artists of other songs with “listen” in the title:

  • “Listen to Your Heart” by artists including DHT, Motörhead, and Roxette
  • “Listen to My Heart” by The Ramones
  • “Listen to Our Hearts” by Geoff Moore And The Distance
  • “Children Will Listen” by Barbra Streisand
  • “If No One Will Listen” by Keri Noble
  • “Learn to Listen” by The Ramones
  • “Don’t Stop and Listen” by DJs @ Work
  • “Stop, Listen, Look & Think” by Expose
  • “Listen to What the Man Said” by Paul McCartney and Wings
  • “Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers
  • “Listen to the Flower People” by Spinal Tap
  • “Ssh…Listen” by Motherjane
  • “Listen Up” by artists including Basket Case, Oasis, and Doomriders
  • “No One Would Listen” by Andrew Lloyd Webber (from The Phantom of the Opera)


[Adapted from a post from March 2008]


Poll: Is Twitter Listening?

March 4, 2009

This morning on Twitter, I saw this tweet from Pete Cashmore of @Mashable: “Funniest. Twitter account. Ever. –> @TheMime.”  And what does The Mime have to say? See for yourself.

That got me thinking. When you use Twitter, does it feel more like you’re listening, or more like you are reading? Please take this one-question survey.

And feel free to embed this PollDaddy poll in your own site, too. Insert the code “polldaddy poll=1423874” (using brackets in place of the quotation marks) into a post.