Posts Tagged ‘listen’

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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]

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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]
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Listening Lessons from Oz: The Wizard of Oz Approach to Listening

March 1, 2009
[Edited and republished from June 23, 2008]

In my closing remarks [from the 2006 International Listening Association conference], as outgoing ILA president, I spoke about the listening lessons of the The Wizard of Oz, pointing out what we can learn from the story and each of its characters.

First, of course, was Dorothy, who clarified her perspective by listening to others as she tried to find her way home. 

The Cowardly Lion struggled for courage, and listening definitely takes courage. “When we ask a question, we must be prepared to listen to the hard stuff, too, not just what we want to hear.” 

Scarecrow, in search of a brain, knew the value of listening and the hazards of over-talking. In answer to Dorothy’s question, “How can you talk if you don’t have a brain?” Scarecrow replies, “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” 

The Tin Man, in searching for his heart, realized through listening to others that he had what he wanted and needed all along. In fact, they all did—which also became a lesson in inward listening. 

They also learned a hard lesson from the Wizard, who was not aware of his impact as a role model or how urgently he was counted on to listen to and help others. 

Listening is a journey, and everyone’s Yellow Brick Road has roadblocks and potholes along the way and a cast of characters with their own struggles.

Wicked, the back story of the Wizard of Oz [describing the lives of the Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, and Galinda, the Good Witch] teaches a number of listening lessons, as well, related to assumptions, prejudice and friendship. The powerful tales of Oz serve as a fitting reminder of my message throughout my term as ILA president: “There is power in listening.”

  • Reprinted from the International Listening Association’s Listening Post, July 2006

For the original mindmap I created (using Inspiration concept mapping software), see the PDF of Listening Lessons from Oz Mindmap. The mindmap includes Toto, too!

barbara_is_listening

Photo Credit: The Wicked Witch of the East, originally uploaded to Flickr by *Dragonfly*

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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.
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Quotations on Listening and Writing

May 11, 2008
It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen. — William Bernbach

The discipline of the writer is to learn to be still and listen to what his subject has to tell him.  — Rachel Louise Carson

Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up on rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. — Meg Chittenden

I have learned as much about writing about my people by listening to blues and jazz and spirituals as I have by reading novels. — Ernest Gaines

If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves. — Lillian Hellman

I learned to write by listening to people talk. I still feel that the best of my writing comes from having heard rather than having read. — Gayl Jones

Between the writing of plays, in the vast middle of the night, when our children and their mother slept, I sat alone, and my thoughts drifted back in time, murmuring the remembrance of things past into the listening ear of silence; fashioning thoughts to unspoken words, and setting them down upon the sensitive tablets of the mind. — Sean O’Casey

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared listener. — Robert Louis Stevenson

Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole. — Eudora Welty

The discipline of the writer is to learn to be still and listen to what his subject has to tell him. — Anonymous

 


Photo originally uploaded to FLickr by [phil h]; late night discussion (or what I’m trying to tell myself…)
 

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Quotations on Listening and Family

February 27, 2008

As we approach International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association) in March, let’s take some time to reflect on several quotations about listening and its impact on our families. 

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. — Ralph Nichols

Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within the hearing of little children tends towards the formation of character. – Hosea Ballou

I think a lot of our problems are because people don’t listen to our children. It is not always easy. They’re not always so brilliant that you want to spend hours with them. But it is very important to listen to them. – Barbara Bush

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. – Robert Fulghum

The most valuable gift you can give your child is to listen to the little and big things in his life. Begin early so that the lines of communication will be open during the teenage years. – Kimberly Keith

Just talking to your child is only half the job. You can keep the lines of communication open by knowing how to listen and when to talk. — National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

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

Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole. – Eudora Welty

Don’t feel that you must advise or help your child come up with a solution all the time. The value of listening is in the listening itself. – Kimberly Keith

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering galleries, they are clearly heard at the end, and by posterity. – Jean Paul Ricther

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

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Songs with “Listen” in the Title

January 17, 2008

As I was researching materials for a session at the International Listening Association‘s annual conference in March 2008, 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), 127 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. 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)