A Note of Thanks

When I began ListenersUnite.com in 2006, I didn’t know whether anyone was listening, but it did not take long to know that I not only had company here, but was in good company. Listeners united, sharing thoughts and even some especially beautiful photographs and poems. To those who wrote, those who contributed, and those who have simply come by to read and listen for a while—thank you.

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Have You Heard? Today is a National Day of Listening!

"Every life matters" is the tagline of StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to interview one another to "record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.

StoryCorps Website encourages everyone to participate in this project and provides a Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide, from question ideas to recommendations for recording equipment. For more in-depth advice on questions, visit their “Great Questions“ page where you'll find a "Great Questions List" and a "Question Generator Tool" to help you select and hone your interview questions based on your relationship and any special areas of focus (such as remembering a person, an event or a period in time).

StoryCorps has archived more than 30,000 interviews. Stories are broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition and at the StoryCorps website, and each story is recorded on a free CD and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

If you decide to participate,
please let us know! We would love to hear your stories and your experience in participating.

“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive. Dave Isay, Founder, StoryCorps




This holiday season, you are invited to participate in a Thanks Giving Listening. Who do you know who would benefit from a deep expression of your gratitude? Ask that person to give you the gift of listening to you, then use that setting to express your gratitude for the listener. This gives the listener the opportunity to put deep, focused attention on hearing nothing but statements of appreciation.

A Thanks Giving Listening is a time when the speaker and listener engage for the purpose of the speaker expressing gratitude and appreciation for the listener.

The Goal is to make someone feel appreciated, cared about, and recognized for positive efforts and impacts, large and small. You can make a loved one feel the depth of your appreciation—deepen friendships—let your neighbor know what it means to you to see a friendly smile at the end of the day and how much you appreciate any kind offers or gestures over the years—tell people with whom you have troubled relationships what they’ve done right and what you appreciate—let coworkers know how much you value the good advice and the extra help and even the silly jokes. Think of anything and everything for which you can say Thank you. A loved one may feel closer than ever, and someone who might feel especially alone as the holidays approaches may feel just a little more valued and connected with the world than they did before. This Thanks Giving Listening can be a powerful experience, especially for someone who doesn’t fully realize the positive impact that he or she has others.

The Process: Ask someone to listen to you, and say that it’s important. Then express your gratitude and appreciation for the little things they do, the times they’ve been there for you, or the blessing that they are in your life. You can do this simply, in a moment, or follow the five-step process below for an even deeper connection.

  1. Write down everything that you want to remember to say. In fact, you may think of more while writing.
  2. Say, “I have some things I want to say to you, and I’d really like your focused attention. They’re all good things. What would be a good time for us to sit down together?
  3. Sit face-to-face in a quiet, peaceful space. Begin by saying that you have something say, and make clear that it’s all positive. Ask the listener to listen to the end, then say, “I feel grateful to you and want to thank you for...” Then tell them all the things on your list for which you feel grateful. If more comes to you as you speak, don’t hold back.
  4. Optional: Present the list in written form that can be saved and savored.
  5. Thank the listener for listening and allowing you to express your gratitude.

If you can’t sit face-to-face, talk on the phone. If conversations are tense and a letter would be more easily received, start with a letter. The most important thing is for the listener to feel appreciated.

As always, please feel free to comment here—any thoughts of gratitude or listening you’d like to share—and if you participate in A Thanks Giving Listening, I’d love to hear about it.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.

Linda Eve Diamond author & creator of Listeners Unite! and the author of Rule #1: Stop Talking! A Guide to Listening

Call for Submissions to the “Listening Education" Journal

Listening Education
Editor: Margarete Imhof

Listening Education is an outstanding journal for educators at all levels (K-12, colleges and universities) and researchers who are interested in listening skills education. The journal includes teaching methods, research, and resources. Contributor backgrounds range from education and communication science to psychology, sociology, and anthropology.


All papers should be concerned primarily with listening skills education. The journal is seeking submissions in three categories (listed below). Click the category links for guidelines and word counts specific to each one:

Additional submission requirements that apply to all categories:
  • Informative title
  • Keywords (maximum of six) for indexing
  • Figures, figure captions and tables included within the text at the appropriate places
  • Definitions of all non-standard abbreviations at their first occurrence
  • Consistency of abbreviations throughout the article
  • APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition, ISBN 1-55798-790-4)
  • Collated acknowledgements in a separate section at the end of the article
  • Standard word processing format (Word or WordPerfect are preferred)
  • Simple layout (Please do not use special options to justify text or to hyphenate words.)
  • Basic formatting: (Please do use bold face, italics, subscripts, superscripts, etc.)
Additional formatting notes from the editor:
  • Always save your file in the native format of the word processor used.
  • Please use template provided for your category.
  • To avoid unnecessary errors you are strongly advised to use the spell-check and grammar-check functions of your word processor.
Deadline: Please submit any time. The journal seeks submissions on an ongoing basis.
Copyright: As an author you retain full rights. The electronic files are prepared in a way to ensure that your copyright is printed throughout the paper. Subscribers may reproduce the papers for their own personal use. Permission of the author is required for distribution outside the institution and for all other derivative works, including compilations and translations. Ethical Guidelines:
  • Contributors must follow Ethics in Publishing guidelines:
  • Reference all third-party contributions and reference material.
  • Identify all third parties who provided financial support for research and/or preparation of the article and briefly describe the role of the sponsor(s).
  • All authors must have participated in the research and/or article preparation, approved the final article, and verify the accuracy of all information provided.
Review Policy: Articles are submitted to a blind review process.
Contributor Benefits: All contributors receive free access to Listening Education and The Listening Post (the newsletter of the ILA) for one year after publication.
Subscription Information: Online access is free for all members of the International Listening Association during their membership period. Online access is also free for contributing authors for the period of one year. For individual purchase of online access to this journal please visit the ILA Wesbite or contact the Listening Education journal editor: imhof@uni-mainz.de.
Send submissions to Margarete Imhof at imhof@uni-mainz.de.


"Just Listen"

The following piece has been circulated for years. It’s been used by some well-known addiction and support groups helping and countless individuals. The author is usually listed as “anonymous,” and there are slight changes in text and even the title. In some versions, Ray Houghton, MD is credited as the author. Whether it is his original work or not is difficult to determine. What is clear is that this is a wonderful statement about what what it means for someone to listen—just listen.

By Ray Houghton, MD?

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me
why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do
something to solve my problem,
you have failed me
—strange as that may seem.

All I asked was that you
Not to talk or do-just
hear me.

Advice is cheap.
Ten cents will get you both Dear Abby
and Bill Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself. I'm not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me
that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and weakness.
But, when you accept as a single fact
that I do feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you
and get to the business of understanding
what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear,
the answers are obvious
and I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what's behind them.

So, please listen and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn;
and I'll listen to you.


Critical Listening for Health in America……….

By Linda Eve Diamond

Conflicting health news is not only confusing, but dangerous. The harder Americans work to stay informed, the more confused and misinformed we become. With the barrage of conflicting health stories we hear, the source of public health information most commonly trusted and relied upon—in spite of its flaws—has been the government. But does the U.S. government provide pure, research-based, health advice and consumer health advocacy? As revealed in last Sunday’s New York Times article, “While Warning About Fat, US Pushes Cheese Sales,” even while offering health warnings, the government is undermining consumer efforts to heed them. We won’t change the government tomorrow, but we can start practicing the kind of careful, critical and inner listening that will help us discern the quality and accuracy of health information.


Obesity in America is a serious, nation-wide health issue that poses deadly hazards to adults and children. The Center for Disease Control’s Website warns: “Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.” According to the US Agriculture Department, cheese is a major reason the average American diet contains too much saturated fat. In September 2010, Michelle Obama challenged restaurants to offer healthier items. The USDA (in a 2006 brochure) recommended ordering whole-wheat pizzas with vegetable toppings and asking for half of the cheese normally; more recently, they lowered recommended allowances for saturated fat.

At the same time, the US government has formed Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), to uphold this mission: “DMI helps build demand for dairy on behalf of dairy producers and is dedicated to the success of the dairy industry.” DMI is best described in the
NYT article as “a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture… the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of the very foods DMI is vigorously promoting.” DMI reports to our Department of Agriculture, which includes in its reports to Congress the “successes” of DMI (mainly record increases in cheese consumption), as Congress talks about its concerns for health in America—which then seems like a lot of hot air (probably a result of too much lactose in the system).


The cover of the DMI 2008 Annual Report features three words: Partnerships, Innovation, Results. Partnerships include fast food restaurants and milk producers, innovation includes five-cheese and stuffed crust pizzas, and results include record amounts of saturated fat consumption (including an increase in sales of milk, cheese and yogurt exceeding one billion pounds between 2003 and 2008).

Following are “successful” initiatives created, funded and marketed by DMI and approved by secretaries of agriculture under both Bush and Obama administrations in the midst of America’s obesity crisis:

  • Created the “Summer of Cheese” promotion, in cooperation with Pizza Hut, that featured stuffed crust and insider pizzas and increased the use of cheese by 102 million additional pounds of cheese in the US during that promotion period (Summer of 2002)
  • Worked with Domino’s to develop pizzas with 40% more cheese (which DMI promoted with a $12 million marketing campaign)
  • Worked with Wendy’s to develop a cheddar lover’s bacon cheeseburger that has two slices of cheddar and is topped with a cheddar sauce
  • Worked with Taco Bell to create their steak quesadilla (with three cheeses and a creamy sauce, “an average of eight times more cheese than other times on their menu” reports the USDA)
  • Used TV, radio, direct mail, in-store sampling and product placement to increase the sale of cheese and cheesy snack items in grocery stores
  • Helped increase sales of milk, cheese and yogurt by more than 1 billion lbs. over a five-year period
  • Partnered with Kraft, Dannon and more and with stores nationwide to expand dairy aisles, which has led to the creation of Kraft Cheese Snacking Sections in over 900 stores
  • Created the “Got Milk?” campaign and have continued to build on the belief that milk is necessary for growing bodies and health maintenance (while it is well-established and documented that diary is not necessary, and many people live healthy lives without it).
  • Capitalized on the addictive qualities of junk food and the impact of clever marketing. A subject heading in DMI’s 2008 Annual Report: “Cheese Snacking Fanatics: Opportunities for Growth.” DMI sees “Increase frequency of cheese snacking” for these people a “key growth strategy.”

With partnerships, innovation, and results like that, DMI (and the USDA, along with their long-time dairy partners) can also take their share of credit for the rise in obesity rates. Click here to see the growing figures at the Center for Disease control’s website. Scroll down to the map graphic and watch the startling progression as all states but one pass 20%, 25%, and even 30% obesity rates.


Junk food is big business in America. A shift to real, whole, healthy foods and a well-informed public would require some restructuring and vision. Instead, our government wants these industries to continue to show record profits every quarter even at the cost of public health. As public health warnings were being issued by the government, people tried to comply. Instead of helping consumers, the USDA made information more confusing and the FDA even loosened standards for health claims. According to the NYT article, “a DMI official claimed to have been inspired by (1) “the newly relaxed federal rules on health claims,” and (2) “the ensuing rapid growth of ‘better for you’ products.”
Who is providing our schools with nutrition information? Here is their mission statement: “National Dairy Council® (NDC) is the nutrition research, education and communications arm of Dairy Management Inc™. On behalf of U.S. dairy farmers, NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier society, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media.” How can we, as a nation, be healthy when marketing is presented by our own government as health facts? We, as individuals, must listen carefully and understand that health information is not always presented based on the quality of evidence, but often to support sales for particular industries.

In 2003, the industry saw American concern about health and weight as a marketing opportunity and began a marketing campaign based on the claim that dairy promotes weight loss.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine petitioned against the claim in 2005. Two years later, in response to the petition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reviewed the claim and found no evidence to support it. The FTC met with representatives of the USDA, DMI, and other dairy industry officials and called for an end to the use of weight-loss claims associated with dairy consumption.


The industry is still making the claim that dairy contributes to weight management (if not weight loss). Sadly, this claim is being made in connection with dairy industry press about their intentions to fight obesity in schools with dairy. The current claim (posted on the National Dairy Council Website and reposted as recently as June 2010), states: “Research supports that enjoying three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. At least 45 observational studies exploring dietary intake patterns and body weight report that dairy foods play a beneficial role in healthy weight.”
DMI is now financing studies, according to the NYT, to help them (1) promote chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and (2) promote the idea of slathering cheese on healthy foods to entice children to eat them (and convincing parents that the excess saturated fat is outweighed by the goodness of a few string beans that a child would never consume without cheese). When you see these “health” promotions that say chocolate milk is for athletes and children should consume even more cheese, will you listen without question—or will you take the time to slow down and listen critically, evaluating what you hear and weighing the evidence behind the statements?


We have been told to listen and blindly follow dairy industry recommendations and not to listen to the doctors, researchers and health professionals who tell us that dairy is a choice, not a necessity—and that it is not necessarily a healthy choice and can even pose health risks. These points of view have widely been dismissed as “fringe,” which makes a lot of people hesitant to listen—especially when health is at stake. But more and more people are realizing that, because health is at stake, we need to listen without bias to ideas that aren’t mainstream and realize that mainstream beliefs aren’t always true or even as safe as we might think. (Likewise, we wouldn’t want to blindly believe something simply because it isn’t mainstream).
Most of us are familiar with dairy claims and campaigns, (and even the public education materials provided to schools). Does that mean anyone without a good campaign is “fringe”? What about the American Dietetic Association (ADA)? In a 2009 position paper, the ADA stated that vegetarian and vegan diets (vegan means
no dairy) can be “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” These diets, says the ADA, “are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” Even Bill Clinton has recently changed his diet and outlook and publicly advocated a dairy-free, meat-free diet.
Perspectives outside of mainstream economic interests may never have equal air time and equal marketing force, common belief may always remain that
not mainstream is equivalent to unsubstantiated, and industries will always beef up their marketing with fear-based claims (that you and your family will be malnourished without a particular product) because those claims are highly effective. What can we do about it? We can listen with calm, inquisitive minds and listen to a broader range of perspectives, allowing ourselves to consider scientifically valid health claims—even when they clash with our beliefs.


Maybe you love chocolate milk— maybe you feel it’s a healthy choice or maybe you see it as an indulgence. If you choose dairy for yourself and your children for health reasons, are you sure you’re making the right choice? We can only make an informed choice with good information, and we all have to know how to distinguish good information from marketing—whether it’s about milk or any other health-related topic.
Critical listening is the key to evaluating conflicting health news and listening for truth through the noise of fads and media hype. Inner listening is also critical for finding our way through the maze of marketing and health information and regaining personal empowerment over our own health and wellness. The only way to make informed choices is to be careful, questioning, critical listeners.


Let’s listen carefully and take our health back, America!



Linda Eve Diamond is the creator and author of the Listeners Unite Website, recipient of two International Listening Association awards, and author of nine books, including Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening. _______________________________________________________________________


Listen… By Ogden Nash

By Ogden Nash

There is a knocking in the skull,
An endless silent shout
Of something beating on a wall,
And crying, “Let me out!”

That solitary prisoner
Will never hear reply.
No comrade in eternity
Can hear the frantic cry.

No heart can share the terror
That haunts his monstrous dark.
The light that filters through the chinks
No other eye can mark.

When flesh is linked with eager flesh,
And words run warm and full,
I think that he is loneliest then,
The captive in the skull.

Caught in a mesh of living veins,
In cell of padded bone,
He loneliest is when he pretends
That he is not alone.

We’d free the incarcerate race of man
That such a doom endures
Could only you unlock my skull,
Or I creep into yours.

Ogden Nash


Shirley Sherrod: A Listening Lesson

By Linda Eve Diamond

What happened to Shirley Sherrod was a listening gaff of national proportions and a powerful statement about the importance of listening to the whole story. Also lacking here were critical listening skills, which include asking questions. Especially disheartening is that the media and the Obama administration were so quick to rush to judgment.

The Quick Clip

If you missed this story, Shirley Sherrod was the Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture. Conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart posted a quick clip of from a speech Sherrod gave for the NAACP. In the clip, she talks about the first time she was in a position to help a white farmer who was facing foreclosure. She said she was “struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.” (In some versions, including the one on Breitbart’s original post, she goes on to say that she referred them to a lawyer, which was her job, and that she assumed a white lawyer would take care of them. He turns that into the equivalent of doing nothing for them at all, and subsequent posts cut out those last lines.)


Shirley Sherrod wasn’t having one of those moments she’d be ashamed to have caught on tape. She was making an impassioned, eloquent statement about the need to come together and help one another. She was sharing a moment of personal growth by telling about when, back in 1986, she stopped seeing the world in black-and-white. That was a heroic journey considering her own personal history. She was 17 in 1965 when her father was murdered in front of witnesses by a white farmer who was acquitted by an all-white jury. She said that in her county at that time, “the murder of black people occurred periodically, and, in every case, the white men who murdered them were never punished.”

She shared her journey and her inner struggles to urge people to look beyond color. Not only did she learn (and subsequently teach)
from that first experience with being in a position to help a white farmer, but learned during the experience. After the statements in the clip, she went on to say that she was appalled to find out that the lawyer wasn’t helping the farmer in her story—and she went above and beyond to help. The farmer in the story, Roger Spooner, and his wife, Eloise, were deeply distressed about how Sherrod has been treated and portrayed; they say she’s a “friend” who helped them save their farm.

You would not have to listen to the entire 45 minutes to garner context, just the next sentence or two, to see that she speaks
against racial discrimination. Shortly after the content of the two-minute video clip, Sherrod said: “I’ve come a long way. I knew that I couldn’t live with hate. As my mother has said to so many, if we tried to live with hate in our hearts, we’d probably be dead now. But I’ve come to realize that we have to work together, and it’s sad that we don’t have a room full of white and blacks tonight because we have to overcome the divisions that we have. We have to get to the point where, as Toni Morrison said, race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

The Fallout

The story of the out-of-context clip was quickly picked up on FoxNews.com and was spreading fast from there and from the original blog. The White House’s response was swift and decisive. "They asked me to resign, and in fact they harassed me as I was driving back to the state office from West Point, Georgia, yesterday," she said. The last call asked her to pull to the side of the road and submit her resignation via her blackberry.

Fox commentators were quick to jump in. Bill O’Reilly taped a show in which he ran the clip and demanded that she be fired. That show aired after her resignation. From there, Fox as well as several other news programs ran the clip and reported that she was asked to resign because of her racist comments. Sherrod is planning to sue Breitbart for defamation of character.

“No one wanted to hear the truth.”

In one interview, Sherrod was asked if she felt she had an opportunity to explain. She said, “No, I didn’t. The administration—they were not interested in hearing the truth. No one wanted to hear the truth.”

Sorry Apologies

An apology can go a long way toward healing and ensuring that the same misstep is less likely to happen in the future. Shirley needed an apology, and so did everyone who saw that clip and thought it was “news.” However, if we listen carefully, some of the apologies are not all that comforting.

President Obama personally called Sherrod to apologize. The networks that ran the stories apologized. Even Bill O’Reilly, who continued to condemn her even the story that she was misrepresented began to break, apologized. He ultimately said that he “did not analyze the entire transcript, and that was not fair.” The White House Press Secretary’s official apology didn’t say much for the administration, though: “And on behalf of the administration, I offer our apologies. This is more directed at everybody at large here. I think everybody has to go back and ask ourselves how we got into this. How did we not ask the right questions? How did you all not ask the right questions? How did other people not ask the right questions?” If you listen carefully, that’s one sorry apology. “We” turned to “you all” and “other people.” Yes, it’s an important question for all to think about, but shouldn’t the government hold itself to a high standard all on its own?

The NAACP’s statement was that they were “snookered” by Breitbart and Fox News. Critical listening requires asking questions and considering the source. Andrew Breitbart has a history of blogging that has not been even-handed. He has even been quoted as saying, “I want to be in the history books saying I took down the institutional left.” He has been fighting accusations from the NAACP about racism within the Tea Party, and suddenly this very small clip, with no context, appears. Should he, with tape snippets, be trusted as a source who would have looked into this thoroughly (or would even be above cutting choice clips)? And, even if Breitbart and Fox News were completely unbiased and trustworthy (and even some Fox News representatives will admit bias), a responsible news source, the NAACP, and the White House should have reserved judgment before seeing more of the tape or even attempting to reach out to Shirley for comment. The NAACP apologized to Shirley Sherrod, but any organization that doesn’t take full responsibility for its actions isn’t listening and learning for a better future.

And what about the man who started it all? No apology
at all. He did print one, small, correction: Correction: While Ms. Sherrod made the remarks captured in the first video featured in this post while she held a federally appointed position, the story she tells refers to actions she took before she held that federal position. His response to the question of an apology was this: “I think the video speaks for itself.” In that, he meant the entire video, and he still sees her as a racist without listening to the avalanche of evidence to the contrary. Further, he said he saw in the video “a present tense racism in my opinion. But racism is in the eye of the beholder.” In fact, Breitbart has tried to garner sympathy for the fact that she called him a racist (a claim that received a lot of attention on Fox News).

There are so many lessons that both journalists and viewers can learn from this, but only if we listen.
Why has history repeated itself? Because no one listened the first time.

What Are We Left With from This Incident?

As Sherrod says: “Life is a grindstone, but whether it grinds us up or polishes us up depends on us.”

How Do We Listen to the Media—Do We Listen to it All as Fact, or Listen Critically?

Future Have You Heard? blogs will feature more in-depth entries on issues of listening critically to the media, sound bytes, and more.
Thanks for listening. Happy

Blog Author Bio: Linda Eve Diamond is the creator and author of the Listeners Unite website, recipient of two International Listening Association awards, and author of nine books, including Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening. To see a full bio, book list and more, please visit LindaEveDiamond.com.


Listening to Children

Are children listening? Equally important is this question: Are we listening to them? The national PTA asked children to complete the phrase: “Something I wish I could teach parents is...” Many wished they could teach parents to listen. Their urgings are honest, insightful, and important—not only for parents, but also for any of us who have children in our lives.

*“Something I wish I could teach parents is...”

“… to listen to kids rather than ignore or say 'That's nice.' Instead, listen, really listen, to what children have to say.” -Holly, age 12

“.. to listen to their children. Most children have great ideas, but just don't get to share them.” -Barbara, age 13

“…how important it is to love their kid. They need to talk with their kid more and pay attention to their kids. All kids need is respect and love because that's what I got, and I turned out pretty good.” -Christina, age 10

“…to not lose their tempers so easily and to let us explain first, instead of just yelling at us.” -Tonya, age 11 

“… to get along with each other and when they're mad at each other, don't show us kids. It's scary. I wish I could sit down and talk to my parents like this, but I don't think they'll listen.” -Renika, age 10

“… that we don't know everything you know so stay patient and calm.” - Jennifer, age 12

“… how important it is to always make TIME for us. The more you talk and spend time with us, the better relationship you'll have and you'll also understand us better.” -Christina, age 12

“…Don't say cruel things to people like ‘she's so fat I don't think she can fit through the door.’” -Kathy, age 13

“… parents are just to help and guide and encourage. Please do not press your feelings because we have our own feelings.” -Monica, age 13

Smart kids.
Happy Let’s all listen.


A Tribute to Fathers

Following are quotes by and about fathers that pay tribute to the powerful inspiration of great dads, whose listening, love, and support have made all the difference… 

“It is a wise child that knows his own father.”  - Homer

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”  - William Shakespeare

“I was the same kind of father as I was a harpist. I played by ear.” - Harpo Marx 

“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 Richter

“There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.” - John Gregory Brown

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”  - Mark Twain

“He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” - Clarence Budington Kelland

“A father’s words are like a thermostat that sets the temperature in the house.” - Paul Lewis

“I just owe almost everything to my father and it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a  very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.”  - Margaret Thatcher

“I don't ever remember a really cross, unkind word from my father.” - Johnny Cash

“I surrendered to a world of my imagination, reenacting all those wonderful tales my father would read aloud to me. I became a very active reader, especially history and Shakespeare.”  - Andrew Wyeth

“My father, he was like the rock, the guy you went to with every problem.”  -Gwyneth Paltrow
“My dad was my biggest supporter. He never put pressure on me.” - Bobby Orr 

“I was born an only child in Vienna, Austria. My father found hours to sit by me by the library fire and tell fairy stories.” - Hedy Lamarr 

“Because my parents, growing up, they worked hard. Everyone in my family woke up early in the morning. I used to see my mother and my father go off to work, and come back and, no matter what, they had time for the kids.” - Herschel Walker 

“My dad loved to laugh. He was very funny and very silly.”  - Mike Myers 

“Being a father, being a friend, those are the things that make me feel successful.” - William Hurt

“Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards.”  - Robert Orben 




"Deeply Listening" A Listening Poem by Michael Purdy

In “Deeply Listening,” Michael takes us to the depths of the discomfort that may be felt when diving “deep off the platform of speaking” to listen. The experience in the poem is nearly suffocating for the listener, who is waiting to speak again as if that opportunity for expression is the very breath of life.
While we all hope to have and to be more present, patient listeners than this, we have to realize how difficult it can be for some, and we may all have felt this way at times when listening to someone whose truth is at odds with our our own. Michael was recently awarded the International Listening Association’s “Outstanding Educator Award” for 2010. 


(I) Dive deep off the platform of speaking
A relationally sobering plunge
Slicing, sinking into (your) meaning

Immersed in dark self(ves), disoriented
Surrounded, lost and drowning?
Great pressure at this depth
Soundings are muted

Cannot stay long
Breath is strained
Deep feelings

I take a guilty inhale
Catch the scent, smell of you
Mood overwhelming--no air

Stroking  away from your pull
Racing for the shallows
Surfacing I gasp

Breath comes in sighs
Of suffocation or attention
(I) jump to life, free to express

©2010 Michael Purdy


"Monroe & 18th Street" A Listening Poem by Michael Diamond

In “Monroe & 18th Street,” a man who is thoroughly disheartened by the awful feeling that no one listens to him finds a way to make a statement that would be hard to ignore. Michael Diamond turns the funny old expression—So, what am I, chopped liver?—into a unique, memorable image in this sad reminder of the importance of listening.


Cost me...
Let's see...
Eight ninety-nine a pound—
Only the best.

A hundred-eighty pounds,
That'll be one thousand
Six hundred eighteen
Dollars and twenty cents.

I'll stand it up
At Monroe where Monroe
Crosses 18th street.

It'll look like me
Specially with the little hat
I always wear.

My name'll be on a sign
That says, "Here's Joe.
May as well be 
Chopped liver.
Nobody ever
Listened to me and
Nobody ever will.
So, here stands 
Chopped Joe,
Cause there's nothin'
To a guy when
Nobody listens."

©2010 Michael Diamond

The poet is my father, and I’ve heard him ask the question from time to time over the years. I post this with apologies to you, Dad, for the fact that there were some years that I might not have been able to distinguish between you and chopped liver. I also did, in fact, think that you owned the electric company and harvested money trees. I’m sorry for my confusion!   ____________________________________________________
To read more about Michael Diamond (who is definitely not chopped liver) visit
his Website or his Facebook page.


"2-18-2010" A Listening Poem by Jerry Catt-Oliason

The following poem by Jerry Catt-Oliason, written at the beginning of Lenten season, brings us into a moment in the heart of a story that’s engrained not only in Christianity but in our culture. We all know the larger-than-life story, and here Jerry has brought us into the emotion of the moment with both powerful imagery and a gentle spirit, alluding to the heart of a message that is largely unheard. 


In your hands the silk thread
Unraveled, knotted.
A twisted tongue summoned
to say the softness unknown
in hearts
confused by the rush of will—
unslaked desire—
and that long shadow thrown
by cross-timbers untreated
but for the body-oil and seeping blood
massaging your back—
a sublime light undiminished
still beaming from your eyes.
No end in sight.

© 2010 Jerry Catt-Oliason


"Clearing" A Listening Poem by Dick Holmes

In honor of National Poetry Month, please take a moment to enjoy the following poem by Dick Holmes, which beautifully honors listening and the creative process.


Which one means most to you,
I start to ask myself but then
realize it isn't a matter of
most but simply of each
one meaning so much:
the vague, familiar
Saturday morning joy
welling up before the poem
begins; the first words
sprouting and growing
to the rhythm of this gentle
on and off spring shower
and Carolina birdsong choir;
the nurturing of them by listening
for where they might go from here;
this ancient way to celebrate
the blessed confusion that
clears everything up.

© Dick Holmes Author of
Recipes for Gratitude


Listening Poetry in Albuquerque - Thank You for Listening!

Many Thanks to those who attended.

Thank you for your laughter, your warmth, your careful attention, interesting comments, and the special connection we shared.  This was my first poetry reading at an ILA, event, and I look forward to many more!

International Listening Association (ILA) Convention Highlights

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I took lots of photos of this convention and some little side-trips to Albuquerque and Santa Fe! Click the album covers below to see photos…

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2010 Listening Awards

Following are the International Listening Association (ILA) awards, presented at the 2010 conference: Listening Lights the Way:

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A Plug for Earplugs—and a Safe 4th of July!

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This holiday is a wonderful time for celebrations with family and friends at picnics and gatherings and, of course, fireworks. We all enjoy sharing the experience of spectacular visual displays, but did you know that fireworks can potentially damage hearing? Have you ever noticed temporary hearing loss or ringing after fireworks? In some cases, permanent damage (hearing loss or tinnitus) results from the loud noise, and children are especially sensitive.  The bad news is that when damage is done, there are ways to cope, but no ways to repair. The good news is that earplugs are an easy, inexpensive solution.  The brand I use is Etymotic, but most pharmacies carry brands that are perfectly good so that you and your family can relax and enjoy the fireworks!

Important information for your family this 4th of July:

“Noise from exploding fireworks can top 130 decibels - it's been shown that exposure to 105 decibels for one hour can put you at risk of hearing damage.” from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)’s Tip Sheet: “Protect Your Hearing This Summer”

“One large acoustic event – when it is very loud at one time – can cause hearing loss.” Jennifer Simpson, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and director of the Audiology Clinic at Purdue University

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Listening Poetry in Albuquerque

Poetry Reading by Listeners Unite site author, Linda Eve Diamond
ILA Convention, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thursday, March 25, 2:30-3:30

If you’re attending the International Listening Association’s conference in Albuquerque, please join me on Thursday. I’ll be reading poetry with the common theme of listening —or
not listening—in both inner and interpersonal situations. This will be my first time sharing poetry at an ILA event, and I’m very excited about sharing this experience with such a powerful group of contemplative listeners!

Internatioanl Listening Awareness Month

If you’re looking for just one way to honor International Listening Awareness Month, here it is: Listen!

Set a listening intention for the rest of the month and see how it affects your life and relationships. Listening intentions might be include incorporating meditation into your day and consciously being more attentive in conversations. This also might be a good time to invite a difficult conversation.

And remember:
March is Listening Awareness Month
—but you can do it any time! Winking
Thanks for listening! Happy


Listening for Beauty

By Linda Eve Diamond

You may have heard the following story back in 2007 or since. I only discovered it recently, and it’s message is timeless.

A Washington Post reporter had an idea and decided to observe a musician playing on a busy morning at the Washington, DC Metro station. While the reporter observed, the violinist played for 45 minutes. The reporter noted that after three minutes (and 63 people) had gone by, one man slowed his pace slightly, looked, and acknowledged the violinist. After that, the musician received his first dollar from a woman who passed without slowing down. After six minutes of playing, someone leaned against a wall to listen.

When the musician finished playing, there was no recognition. Not a single person clapped or even seemed to notice he had stopped. The reporter noted that only seven people had stopped to listen at all, even for a moment, 27 gave money (though most of them didn’t slow down), and the musician collected a total of $32 and change. That left 1070 people who walked by who, for the most part, without even turning to look.

This social experiment examining perceptions of beauty and awareness of the world around them required more than a street musician, as no one could get through a day in the city if our attention were drawn by each one. But what if the reporter placed one of the greatest musicians in the nation in this scenario? Would people pass him by just the same? He did—and they did. The story, titled,
Pearls Before Breakfast, earned author Gene Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

The violinist in this story who earned little attention and around $32 was Joshua Bell playing an extraordinarily intricate pieces on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days earlier, his concert sold out a theater in Boston at an average ticket price of $100.

How aware are we of our surroundings? Do we recognize beauty in unexpected places? Do we recognize talent if it isn’t dressed up and we aren’t paying handsomely? What is our perception of beauty, and what factors affect our perceptions? As we rush on through the world, hurtling through the days and weeks with ten thousand things and ten thousand voices blowing by—are we aware of our surroundings in the moment? Are we listening? This social experiment shined a spotlight on these questions. You might say it’s an unusual circumstance and that Joshua Bell is not everywhere. True enough. But maybe beauty is.

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Linda Eve Diamond is an author, founder of the Listeners Unite Website, and recipient of two International Listening Association awards. Linda's Website is www.LindaEveDiamond.com.



International Listening Association (ILA) Convention

31st Annual ILA Convention
Transformational Listening: Listening to Change”
Albuquerque, NM March 25-27, 2010

Join listeners from around the world at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, NM in March! Whether you’re interested in teaching or learning, expanding your business or your consciousness, or all of the above—you’ll find fascinating sessions and connections at the ILA convention.
The ILA’s
mission isto advance the practice, teaching, and research of listening throughout the world.” To learn more about the organization or the convention, visit Listen.org.