Make the Holidays More Enjoyable by Listening to Your Inner Voice

A Special Guest Blog by Lisa Marie Platske, Founder & Chief Enthusiasm Officer of Upside Thinking

With the holidays right around the corner, I'm excited about another year and the opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation and to re-connect with my family. Despite my enthusiasm, I'm mindful about the potential stresses of the holiday season. Many people feel stressed by a sense of obligation to entertain or guilt about saying "no" to invitations. So, this time of celebration may also involve managing expectations and even dealing with difficult relatives. This can feel overwhelming, especially when we really want to spend the holiday season celebrating, giving in our own special ways, and being thankful for all that we have and all that we share with our loved ones.

Here are a few ideas for how you can make this year's holidays enjoyable and stay on the Upside:

  • Be Authentic.  As Oscar Wilde said, "Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken." Instead of trying to be who you think you "should" be with your family, friends, in-laws, or guests, be yourself. Being authentic will allow you to experience the peace that comes from not trying to please everyone around you. As long as you're gracious and kind, you have no reason to fret about upsetting or displeasing others, even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on things or they just don't seem to "get" you.

  • Focus on the Upside.  When I first met my husband, he always spoke about loving people for who they are and not for who you want them to be. This saying has now become my personal mantra. Over the holidays, make a commitment to focus on the things you like and appreciate about your friends and family members, instead of shining light on the things that may annoy or upset you about them. After all, we tend to find what we look for in people and in life.

  • Keep it Easy-Peasy.  Yes, those who know me know that I have my own vocabulary. Why? Because I like to focus on what is fun. Easy-Peasy is one of those words that reminds me to keep it light. Do whatever you can to make the entire holiday experience as stress-free as possible. As you plan your celebrations, keep it easy-peasy. Share the responsibilities, ask others for help, and say "no" to what you truly don't want to do. And, if you listen to your inner voice, you'll know when to say "hello" and when to say "good-bye".

  • Practice the Daily Act of Gratitude.  The holidays should be a special time for us to reflect on what we're grateful for - in life, about others, and about ourselves. Take some time throughout the month to count your blessings, expressing your gratitude by reaching out to those who mean much to you and by being kind to yourself.

 This year, make the commitment to use this special time of the year as an opportunity to reflect, connect, and celebrate the gift of life.

 See Upside. Be Upside. Live Upside.


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Lisa Marie Platske, Chief Enthusiasm Officer of international leadership development company Upside Thinking, Inc. and award-winning entrepreneur, wows audiences with inspirational seminars and provides coaching/consulting to transform the way leaders approach their personal and professional lives.


A Thanks Giving Listening: A Gift of Gratitude


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.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.

Linda Eve Diamond


The Doorway

UPDATE: This poem has been updated and is now part of "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection.
Read the updated poem here. Read about "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection here.


By Linda Eve Diamond

Trapped inside myself, I heard your voice,
the gentle offering you placed in the doorway.

You offered to listen. I opened up just a little.
You stepped so softly… as if entering
a place of prayer.

didn’t look for a light switch,
bring a flashlight, open the blinds,
or try in any way to illuminate
my space.

You sat quietly beside me
in the dark.

I talked in stops and starts
becoming smoother as you listened.

didn’t jump in, preach or rant,
judge me, entertain or chant.

I unburdened, articulated,
and could feel my breath… slowing.

didn’t tweet, text, check your phone,
or update your online status to “listening.”

I don’t know when the door blew open,
but a natural light filled the room.

Through that generous, open space,
stirred a breeze of fresh, breathable air.

As you listened, my thoughts began to clarify,
opening to a knowing voice deep inside.

You helped me find my voice,
my center and my smile.

You say you didn’t do a thing.
You simply listened.

Thank you for all that you
didn’t do
and all that you
did by listening.

@2011 Linda Eve Diamond,

UPDATE: This poem has been updated and is now part of "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection.
Read the updated poem here. Read about "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection here.


Listening to Steve Jobs

By Linda Eve Diamond

Steve Jobs wanted to change the world—to “put a ding in the universe,” and he did. Since last Wednesday, October 5, our Apple devices (and devices that built on Apple’s innovations) have been flooded with articles, videos, photographs and graphics paying tribute to this larger-than-life icon, his life, and his work.

Beyond Apple and Pixar, Steve Jobs leaves us with a legacy of inspiration and a model of inner listening that is at the heart of his vision, innovation, perseverance and personal philosophy.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
He shared three inspiring stories from his life in this now-famous commencement speech from 2005: the first, about “connecting the dots,” the second, about love and loss, and the third, about death. If you have not had an opportunity to see this video, you might enjoy sitting back for 15 minutes and listening to these wonderful bits of wisdom, insight and inspiration. To read the transcript,
click here.

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Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs

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


World Mental Health Day

By Linda Eve Diamond

Did you know that today is World Mental Health Day?
Following is the World Health Organization’s definition of World Mental Health day:
  • World Mental Health Day raises public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. The treatment gap for mental, neurological and substance use disorders is formidable especially in poor resource countries.
  • This year the theme is "Investing in mental health."
While the overall theme for the year is “investing in mental health” and addressing worldwide concerns, this is also a time for open discussions of mental disorders, which will hopefully lead, ultimately, to greater recognition and investment in these issues.
Mental health issues are more pervasive in this country than many of us know or would like to admit. We can understand, talk about and sympathize with physical illness, but in our culture it often seems as though we don’t want to know about mental illness. We may look down, look away, change the subject, and might even resent the topic having been raised. “Should” someone talk about it? It’s uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say. Many of us might rather say nothing, hear nothing, risk nothing, and go on as though everything is 100% “normal,” even when it isn’t.
Because of the stigma attached, the problem becomes even more pervasive, and those who are suffering, along with their families, often live with the added burden of shame. Beyond the growing numbers of diagnosed mental health disorder (from schizophrenia, to depressive disorders), are those that are undiagnosed. Mental health issues also add to the growing numbers of those who struggle with addiction, as many people turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to self-medicate.
The following statement of “The Magnitude and Burdens of the Problem” is from a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO): 

WHO Report

Every one of us can be a part of helping to de-stigmatize mental illness by our willingness to listen openly and without judgment.  We can each think about what we can do to make ourselves more approachable to people in our lives who may want to discuss these sensitive issues. Many of us are also afraid to discuss our own personal or family mental-health-related issues—even with those we consider to be close friends. Maybe, in those cases, we can learn to put more faith in those around us. Let’s talk... and listen, too, and not just for today.


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



UPDATE: This poem is now part of "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection. Read about "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection here.


A Cautionary Tale by Linda Eve Diamond

She said
I couldn’t love you
………………………………….He snapped a quick reply:
You said you did, you lied to me, but then all women lie.

With that, he gathered up his things and spewed a harsh goodbye.
She would have loved him always, but he had one awful flaw.
He interrupted her every sentence, her every little thought.

But oh, how she cried when he walked out the door.
The rest of her sentence would have been

©2011 Linda Eve Diamond

UPDATE: This poem is now part of "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection. Read about "The Beauty of Listening" poetry collection here.


Join 100 Thousand Poets for Change on September 24, 2011

100 Thousand Poets for Change is a world-wide poetry event spanning 400 cities and 95 countries on September 24, 2011! Events will be held and broadcast on the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Website. Check the Site for information on events in your area or how to register your own event! If you can’t make it to an event, you can still enjoy live streaming from events at the Website.


From the press release:

Poets, writers, artists, and humanitarians will create, perform, educate and demonstrate, in their individual communities, and decide their own specific area of focus for change within the overall framework of peace and sustainability, which founder Michael Rothenberg stated, “…is a major concern worldwide and the guiding principle for this global event.” Bob Holman and Margery Snyder, in a recent article on said, “the beauty of the concept of 100 Thousand Poets for Change is that it is completely decentralized and completely inclusive.” The events range from a poetry and peace gathering in strife-torn Kabul and Jalalabad to 20 collective poetic actions in Mexico City where poets, painters, filmmakers and musicians will spread the word of peace and nonviolence throughout the city with day long readings and workshops. There are 29 events planned in India, 7 in Nigeria, 17 in Canada, 19 in Great Britain, 5 in China, 3 in Cuba and over 220 events in the United States for a start. Participation continues to grow. Poetry demonstrations are being organized in political hotspots such as Cairo, Egypt and Madison, Wisconsin. There are 20 events in North Carolina where teacher/poets have mobilized and will be conducting poetry workshops and peace readings, and will send poems to congress in a statewide campaign for sustainability and to emphasize the need for arts in the schools. And along the Platte River near Omaha, Nebraska, poets will be demonstrating against TransCanada’s planned Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.


100 Thousand Poets for Change is a powerful artistic expression. Now think of the power of 100 Thousand Plus Listeners taking part and taking in these artistic notions about a myriad of issues and concerns from many perspectives—on peace sustainability, justice, equality, environmental concerns, and concerns that are both worldwide and local to specific areas. Wow! :)


“5 Ways to Listen Better” - A TED Talk by Julian Treasure

A world where we don’t listen to each other at all is a scary place, indeed.” Julian Treasure

This powerful TED talk makes a strong statement about the importance of listening, offers five listening exercises, and addresses the need to teach listening in schools.


LISTENING TO PEOPLE’S STORIES- A Special Guest Blog by Abigail Mahnke

By Abigail Mahnke, Interviewer, “Inner Views” Radio Show

As the host of a weekly radio interview show called Inner Views in Austin, TX (KOOP 91.7 FM), I listen to people’s stories. I focus on “everyday people with extraordinary stories,” which includes drug and alcohol addiction, competing in difficult sporting events, overcoming abuse, living with a physical disability, having a bestselling book, and more.

Though I drive the interview with my questions, I don’t speak much overall. The show is about my guest and their story, not about me. This is true in my regular life—I’m the listener, not the storyteller. Having hosted my show for almost 6 years, I’ve thought a lot about why I’m compelled to ask questions and what I get out of it.

People often tell me that my interviews are conversational, as if I’m having a chat. While I take that as a compliment, I realize something bigger is at work for me. I like to joke that if my husband—the ultimate people person—were the host of my show, he would talk just as much as listen, and become friends with every person he interviewed.

For me, it’s different. The reason I listen to other people’s stories is that
it is one of the primary ways I educate myself. By listening to stories, I get a window into someone else’s world—often very different than my own—and learn about the myriad possibilities that exist out there for thoughts, behaviors and perspectives. (I grew up in a nice family with loving parents, in a nice neighborhood with good schools. My experience of the real world growing up was very limited!)

When I listen to someone’s story—say, the heroin addict who spent time in prison—I learn what led him down this particular path. Maybe he grew up with drug-addicted parents, or maybe he lost someone dear to him and didn’t know a better way to numb the pain. By listening to his story, I learn so much about him—which I’m able to generalize to the world at large. Everyone has stories (some of them dirty laundry), and everyone has a background and reasons leading them to it.
By listening, I learn.

Listening to stories expands my horizons and makes me a better person. I’m not perfect; I’m human, and I judge. But the more I listen, the more compassionate and understanding I become.

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Abigail Mahnke is the host of Inner Views, a weekly radio interview show in Austin, TX about everyday people with extraordinary stories. It can be heard on KOOP 91.7 FM Austin or streaming live at She graduated from Columbia University with a BA in philosophy and is also the owner of The Outsource Resource, a staffing agency specializing in outsourced administrative and bookkeeping assistance.


Sarah Palin & Paul Revere: A Listening Lesson

By Linda Eve Diamond

Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere... *
...but listen with a critical ear!
*Opening lines to Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If you’ve been listening to the latest news involving Sarah Palin, you have probably heard that she flubbed when telling the history of Paul Revere... and you’ve also heard that she was right, after all... or not. The debate rages on, though it’s not so much a debate as a battle of wills, media might, mud slinging, and even an effort to rewrite history.


As a nation, we are losing (if we haven’t already lost) sight of critical listening, independent judgement, and the highest regard for truth. We are, instead, choosing sides and sticking with them.

When we are name calling, bullying, making accusations and crying out martyrdom, we are not listening. When supporting a politician—any politician—becomes more important than seeking the truth, we are not listening. When we see the world in black and white, good guys and bad guys, saints and sinners, we are not listening. When we allow our emotions to be driven by a ratings-driven media (much of which has major financial political involvement), we are not listening. When we love any politicians so much that we will turn ourselves inside out to find ways to defend their actions or make sense out of what they say, we are not listening—not to them, the “other side,” or even our own intuition.

Every time we fight to defend or attack a political figure (or anyone taking a political position) using word games, tactics of distraction or name calling—every time we listen for our “side” instead of listening for reason, we are acting against the best interests of our country and ourselves. In a democracy, everyone should be held accountable, even those we support. The tactics used that make critical listening so difficult are not exclusive to anyone or any one “side.”

Critical listening is critical for the wellbeing of our country, historical insights, and also for all of us as individuals. Preconceived notions, judgments, black-and-white, us-and-them thinking and labeling make patience and receptivity extremely difficult and critical listening nearly impossible. Remove these impediments to listening, remove the righteousness and indignation. What’s left? Listening.

On the other hand, the result of not listening is a divided, black-and-white, tit-for-tat, closed minded society trying to build a future on the ever-eroding foundation of an uncertain past.



If you haven’t heard the story, Sarah Palin, while visiting Boston sites on her “One Nation” tour, was asked the question: “What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?In her reply, she spoke about Paul Revere, who was famous for warning the colonists that British troops were approaching on his midnight ride in 1775. She said he “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.”

Media, bloggers and tweeters were quick to point out the inaccuracy of her comments. However, in an interview three days later, Palin stuck to her story.
“You know what?” said Palin, “I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere.” She expanded on her statements, explaining why she believes it was accurate while adding more details that are now part of the dispute. Her statement ended with: “And in a shoutout, 'gotcha' type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history.” See the interview here.

The media, of course, is filled with ministers preaching to their own choirs, sensationalism and even headlines that misrepresent the content that follows. Consider the historians’ comments in this Boston Herald article,
Experts back Sarah Palin’s historical account: You betcha she was right! Does that headline represent the experts quoted?

People have even
tried to alter the Paul Revere Wikipedia page to more closely align with the statements made by Palin, who, as we know, is not a historian. The historians who responded to questions about the validity of what she said have been quoted in snippets and sound bites and interpreted differently by people on both sides of the issue. We all know the value of history. Is this how any of us really wants our history to be written and revised?


Whatever the story is, if it raises your blood pressure and makes you want to scream, protest, petition, blog or boycott (or even makes you want to try to edit historical accounts), you are, of course, free to take those actions. Maybe they are even for the greater good. However, it might be good to first take a few long, deep breaths and ask some questions. What is the other side saying? How would I hear and respond to this if it came from someone on my “side”? Where can I go to learn more and draw my own conclusions based on more complete information? The dialogue and conduct may spin out of control around us and the media frenzy may provide little help in sorting through, but we can still center ourselves and listen critically to come to our own conclusions. If there’s no time to research on our own, then maybe we should wait and listen carefully for a while before jumping into the flames.


For those interested in learning the history of Paul Revere, a great place to start is the
Paul Revere House Website. You can also visit the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Website, where you’ll find a letter written by Paul Revere or Paul Revere’s deposition, explaining in full the events of that night.


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


ILA 2011 Convention Photos

The 2011 International Listening Association Convention was, as always, fun and fascinating. Once again, I took lots of photos from the convention, the awards, and the side trips. Click the album covers below to visit the albums. (They are posted on Facebook, but you don’t have to be a FB member to view my page or photo albums.) Happy

Convention Photos 2 Convention Photos 1 Convention Photos 3


Congratulations to Award-Winning Listeners!

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2011
International Listening Association Awards!

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"Rule #1" Book Review in the Listening Education Journal

The following review is reprinted from the current edition of the International Listening Association’s Listening Education journal.


Review of teaching material Title reviewed
: Linda Eve Diamond (2007). Rule #1: Stop Talking – A Guide to Listening. Silicon Valley: Listeners Press.
Author of the review: Margarete Imhof
Author Affiliation of the reviewing author: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Correspondence should be addressed to:
Grade level: Undergraduate; Adult Education; General
Type of material: Book
Keywords: Listening, Interpersonal Communication, Self-Reflection, Building Listening Skills

1. Description of the material

Linda Eve Diamond’s book presents the challenges involved in listening in a world which is full of noise. The book has two basic messages: One is that good listening skills help to improve everybody’s life in many areas, family, relationships, business; the other is that listening is a learnable skill. And the book shows how: Essentially, the title says it all – or almost: Stop talking to start with. Give yourself a chance to take in what the other(s) have to say and want to tell you.

The structure of the book reflects a suggestion for a course on listening. The point of departure is a self-assessment of individual listening skills and listening challenges. The author then explains the benefits of good listening to the listener and proposes a process model of listening. The promise of good listening implies that the listener may be invited into someone else’s world, that listening increases self-confidence as well as mutual understanding, and, as a consequence, fewer misunderstandings, closer relationships, and a better use of human resources.

The second chapter provides more detail on the intricacies of listening behavior and attitudes. The author makes it a strong point to illustrate that good listening does not automatically come with the proper attitude, but that good listening is active, e.g., managing the thought process to open your mind, withholding judgments, monitoring nonverbal behavior, in particular eye contact. In the same line, the importance of basic psychological processes, such as memory and critical thinking (as in question asking) is discussed. Special attention is given to pitfalls and common causes for communication breakdowns. Being distracted, making assumptions, drawing premature inferences, making associations, adding your own story are patterns of behavior which are more than likely to lead to miscommunication and misconceptions about what the other person wanted to say. The author calls these situations “circuits” and she extends this idea to those areas where communicators come from different angles and enter a conversation with disparate expectations. According to the author, this may be the case in all conversations where stereotypes and prejudice play a role. The author shows how this applies to communication between male and female, to inter-generational communication, to communication with people of different personality or physical appearance. In addition, it is important to understand how cultural, racial, and religious background is intertwined with listening skills and communication challenges.

In the next chapter, the author proposes reasons for the talkative culture in modern societies. Speaking is often assumed to be identical with leading. However, the author discloses conversational powerplay and script talking (using over-simplified, nonflexible, preconceived language) as unproductive and unsuccessful specimen of ineffective communication strategies. However, good listening needs good speaking. The course includes rules for a clear and straight speech to ensure listenability and to secure understanding.

In a separate chapter the author looks at the challenge of listening to resolve conflict. The emotional involvement makes both listening and speaking more difficult. The communicators need to control their feelings and their language in order to avoid all those elements which cause hostility and which finally make the problem larger than life, e.g., sarcasm, insincerity, blame, which finally leads to estrangement of the respective parties, and impede constructive problem solving.

The final chapters are dedicated to the presentation of listening behavior. The author presents ideas which the learner may consider to experiment with in order to improve personal listening skills. These activities include both monitoring the listening environment and using self-regulating skills to prepare for listening. The author shows how listening to oneself, opening the inner ear in order to understand fine nuances in the messages of the others, using silence, walling out distractions, are helpful ways to overcome ineffective listening behavior and to experience fresh and deeper exchange of ideas with others.

2. Evaluation and recommendation

The book is strong on encouraging the learners to reflect upon their own experience and to work from there. The book has a clear structure which uses a self-assessment as a point of departure. The rationale presented in the book is consistent and convincing: The author invites the learners to think about the benefits of good listening, to relate the content of the book to their own lives and to their own experience. The analysis and the options for exploring listening behavior are based on findings of listening research (although sources are not referenced throughout the book) and consistent with current listening models. The author has a strong background in interpersonal and business communication. The examples she uses are relevant and authentic, and the suggestions she proposes are practical and purposeful. She has a wonderful sense for the doable and, yet, she also challenges the learner. This keeps up the attention and the interest of the reader.

The tone of the book is both informative and entertaining and provides a lot of material for discussion. The individual reader will certainly benefit from the ideas presented here, but the book would also be a great means to start discussions in a classroom. It proposes interesting ideas which might help learners to discuss communication issues and to take an interest in communication theory. The way the book is written could elicit further research and help develop declarative and procedural knowledge about communication. I can see the book as a great tool in an undergraduate classroom as well as in a general education classroom and in training settings.

Listening Education 1/2011 © International Listening Association,

Click here to read more about Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening.



Listening and Storytime

By Linda Eve Diamond

Storytimes are special. Beyond the fun and closeness of storytimes, children learn by listening to the rhythms of the language and both hearing and seeing the limitless possibilities of imagination. Sometimes, of course, kids will be more interested in the pictures and sometimes more involved with the stories. Other times they will seem to be paying no attention at all and still others they may be very interested in taking a bite out of the book (talk about a hunger for literature)!

However involved they are or are not, patient parents read on. The latest blog at the The Beauty of Picture Books Website is by Donya Dickerson (a senior editor and also a mom), who speaks to the idea of “Building a Love of Picture Books.” She writes about her 11-month-old daughter, Diora, and the point at which Diora began to squirm during books, her attention turning to other things. Donya read on, even when her daughter didn’t seem to be listening. “While Diora pushed her blocks over or banged her plastic rings together, my husband and I sat next to her and read picture books, hoping that at least hearing the words would somehow benefit her little mind as it grows.... And just within the last week or so, I’ve realized our persistence has paid off.  As I read a book about animals to her, she came over and started pointing at each animal, making her ‘what’s that?’ noise.  And then, suddenly, she was happy to be back on my lap, turning the pages back and forth again and again, while I read to her (not necessarily in order),
Kiss Good Night.” For more of this story, read Donya’s post, “Building a Love of Reading.” 

The Beauty of Picture Books Blog features guest contributors who share their thoughts and perspectives about “The Beauty of Picture Books.” Contributors include (award-winning children’s book author) Eloise Greenfield (award-winning author and illustrator) Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Kay Lindahl (author and founder of The Listening Center), Donya Dickerson (Senior Editor at McGraw-Hill), and a little bear.

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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 ten books, including Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening. To see a full bio, book list and more, please visit


International Listening Awareness Month

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Poetry Reading at the Upcoming ILA Convention

Listeners Unite Site creator, Linda Eve Diamond, will present a listening-themed poetry reading at the 32nd Annual Convention of the International Listening Association (ILA) in Johnson City, TN, March 30 - April 3, 2011. Poetry readings provide an intimate listening experience that is also uniquely interpretive. This session is tentatively scheduled for April 1, 10:30 a.m. (the first day of National Poetry Month).


School Bullying Must End—and Listening Is the Key

By Robert Spencer Knotts 
Founder and President of the Humanity Project

When does bullying flourish? When no one is listening.

Bullying flourishes in the ignored shadows of the schoolyard. When no one is watching and no one is listening, kids often behave with much less restraint. So it follows that one effective deterrent to bullying behavior is the attention of adults. This means teachers who listen and watch and ask questions, of course. But it also means friends and relatives, parents especially, who make an effort to learn what’s going on. The art of listening carefully is an important tool to help stop bullying.

Parents need to ask questions—then listen carefully to advise, take appropriate action, and follow through.

Listening comes into play in many different ways. Good listening skills are necessary for the parent of a bully who begins to show aggressive tendencies at home. Those same listening skills are just as important for anyone in the opposite situation, as the parent of a bullying victim who becomes withdrawn and morose. These parents or other caregivers should be asking questions of their kids – questions that include the topic of bullying. What kind of relationship do they have with other kids at school? Are they feeling angry or afraid at school? And if so, why? What are they doing or what’s being done to them? Then those same adults must listen to the answers and offer sensible responses that focus on defusing the problem. In some cases, the adults may need to intervene directly, speaking to teachers, guidance counselors or other parents. But the only way for these adults to understand the situation at school is to keep asking thoughtful questions without making their kids feel threatened … and then to hear, truly hear, what their children are trying to tell them.

If your school has a problem, you and your child can be part of the solution.

We all know how terrible bullying has become in today’s schools. It was always bad. It’s worse now than ever. Conversations with the kids in your life about this issue are critical to preventing and stopping bullying behavior. That’s as true for parents of the “other” kids as for those of the bullies and victims. Bystanders are the key to ending bullying in school because they typically either encourage or ignore the aggression. And naturally this only emboldens the bullies. Every adult who is raising a child, or has a close relationship with one, can help eliminate bullying by talking with that child about bullying experiences at school, honestly and openly. If the adult listens attentively, and offers sensitive guidance, their child stands a much better chance of becoming part of the solution to school bullying.

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Robert Spencer Knotts is founder and president of the Humanity Project, a 501c3 organization that offers an innovative program to help stop bullying in the schools. For more information, go to The Humanity Project Website or call 954-205-2722.