Can You Hear Me Now?

Today, I have a short thought that should apply to just about any of us in higher ed. It’s about listening.

  • It’s why we gather data.
  • It’s how we calm people down when they are upset.
  • It’s how we build relationships.
  • It’s one half of a conversation.

So I ask you… if you are not opening your site, your time, or yourself, up to feedback… are you even communicating? Aren’t you missing half of the information you need to do your job?

Thoughts? How has listening helped you in your field?  Do you have any horror stories when someone has not listened?

Image Credit: Listen by runran

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communication, conversation, feedback, listening

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This post was written by:

Nikki Massaro Kauffman

Nikki Massaro Kauffman - who has written 42 posts on .eduGuru

Nikki is a multimedia specialist with Penn State's World Campus Learning Design unit, creating and editing multimedia for online courses.

Previously, she was technology training coordinator with the Penn State University Libraries, responsible for technology training offered in the Libraries' 20+ departments and 30+ library locations.  

Over the years, she's been she served as an interim associate director of instructional technology and multimedia, a programmer, a database specialist, a Microsoft Certified Master Instructor, a continuing education instructor for seniors and adults with disabilities, and a high school English and communications technology teacher.  

Her interests are in the areas where technology, training, and communication intersect.  She holds degrees in both computer science and in education.  She is also an insomniac and an extreme extrovert with an indiscriminate love of language (including expletives).

13 Responses to “Can You Hear Me Now?”

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    Jess Says:

    I agree. Why are people so scared to listen? I think its because they already know whats being said and that its not good. Why not listen, react, and change things and make them better?


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    Todd Says:

    My hugest gripe is using a blog w/ comments disabled. Standing naked in front of the room is intimidating, especially if you’ve let yourself go. However, it is a great source of motivation to get your ass in shape. Unfortunately, losing the beer belly requires effort/change… ignorance is bliss, yet full of FAIL.


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    Lane J Says:

    Sometimes I think people don’t listen because of arrogance. They (the person or University) think they know what is best for the audience. In turn the valuable input from the audience is never seen, and if it is, it is not acknowledged.


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    Ron Says:

    I’m with all of the commenters here, in that it’s both the hubris of thinking they know better than their audience and that their experience makes them all-knowing.

    As for the experience of people not listening, lots of stories. But I prefer the ones where folks on the higher end of the latter engage, participate and find that they can learn something too, because I’m not afraid to use their experience and gain from it.


  5. Avatar image
    Nikki C Says:

    Thanks for posting this!

    I think you hit it on the head with opening up the time to listen. That seems to me to be the thing in higher ed- everyone is so busy that it takes a conscious effort to really acknowledge what’s being said on the other side of the conversation, and to hear the whole thing. It’s faster and easier to just ignore the other half of the conversation, so why take the time when there are a million other things to do by the end of the day?
    This is a great reminder to slow down and actually communicate! Thank you!


  6. Avatar image
    Nikki Massaro Kauffman (author) Says:

    First of all, thanks for listening.

    @Jess: I agree. In some cases, people act like this:

    @Todd: I know what you mean (nudity and beer bellies aside aside-I’ve got my own to be sure). I wonder is it a blog if it there are no comments, or does it become a news feed at that point?

    @Jane J: “They (the person or University) think they know what is best for the audience. In turn the valuable input from the audience is never seen, and if it is, it is not acknowledged.” -You just described us to a T. A complaint I often hear from the campuses I serve is that communication seems to flow only one way: from our “main” campus out to them, with very few opportunities for people at our campus to really get to know them and their needs. Additionally, a lot of individual colleges and departments have created redundant services over the years because they felt the centralized ones did not meet their needs.

    @Ron: Thanks for your feedback, Ron. I guess sometimes when we are called upon as “experts”, we forget to listen to the those we’re serving.

    @Nikki C: I agree 100% on the busy factor. Higher Ed has creates this vicious cycle of creating standing meetings to keep its stakeholders informed, and people’s schedules end up so full of standing meetings they don’t get a change to actually talk and listen to one another on a one-on-one basis, so… we have to create standing meetings with those people called the standing one-on-one or the standing departmental staff meeting so we know what every one we should have been seeing and talking to and listening to on a day-to-day basis is doing. Hmm…


  7. Avatar image
    TimN Says:

    I think that a blog that doesn’t enable comments isn’t, well, a blog. It’s an online essay.

    We worked hard on our official Web site’s FAQs and I thought they were pretty good. But from our Facebook Fans page I learned that it really wasn’t thorough. The bright side is that we can use our Fans feedback to improve our FAQs … by listening, we can help.


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    Gregory Morris Says:

    Well once again this is a bang on post … and some great comments too …

    The issue I face daily is not whether I listen (I really really do), but in getting people to talk!

    Faculty, staff and students of my beloved university have it in their head that I should know what they’re thinking, and this makes it hard to pull the information from them that I need to market this place properly.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this would be greatly appreciated …


  9. Avatar image
    wilhb81 Says:

    Nikki, believe it or not, it’s very hard to learn to be a good listener, as most people always thought they’re much better than anyone else!

    Therefore, those listeners are mostly a humble person, as they’re willing to sacrifice their time listening to other people’s troubles.


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    Rick Hardy Says:

    Well said, Nikki. This is especially true in higher ed where we have hierarchies and management silos with a history of not talking and listening to each other. Ironically, students may be the ones some colleges listen to the least. Beyond our professional lives, your post has wise counsel for all of us.


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    Aderevit Says:

    Что ж… и такое мнение допустимо. Хотя, думаю, возможны и другие варианты, так что не огорчайтесь.


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    PB Says:

    I agree. Why are people so scared to listen? I think its because they already know whats being said and that its not good. Why not listen, react, and change things and make them better?


  13. Avatar image
    Charlie Triplett Says:

    With our site, I’ve opened up the vast majority of pages to comments asking, “What can this page do better?”. It has been an overwhelmingly helpful feature to the site that has shown me so many places where I didn’t fully imagine how people would use a page.


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