Twitter – Two Ears to Listen, One Mouth to Speak

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January 19, 2013 by cdvallance

I so enjoyed Simon Inger’s blog about iPads, I thought it might be of some interest to share thinking about one way I use my own iPad.

twitter-bird-blue-on-whitestock-illustration-3365311-classic-car-1959-chevy-impalaI was quite skeptical about Twitter when I first decided to try it out but I saw that it was increasingly being used, particularly by students. When I was still in my 20’s I decided I never wanted to end up like an older friend. He simply refused to listen to any music later than 1960. He even drove a car from the 50’s – beautiful but certainly not the only choice around. I may not be on the leading edge of technology but choice for me continues to be important.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” (Epictetus, Greek philosopher, AD 55-c.135 by way of Tim le Lean). This quote epitomises the value I find in Twitter. To me, Twitter is:

1. A newspaper – I can use it to catch headlines and current activities from news organisations like the Guardian, THE, etc. as well as “headlines” from people and organisations within and outside the University of Kent that I have chosen to “follow.” I can dig deeper by clicking on the links attached to the tweets.

2. A source of continuous professional development – Following organisations and thinkers that I respect (I call them my virtual mentors) who write about leadership, innovation, diversity, strategy, and change as well as other areas of interest provide me with a steady stream of current, often internationally acclaimed thinking, on topics I care about. I can take five minutes to scan a few practical presentation skills tips or read an inspirational article to kickstart my own motivation when I am having a difficult day.

3. An event tracker – Twitter is a terrific way to keep an eye open for upcoming events and to have another method at your fingertips to tell others about events you are involved in or that you want to draw attention to. When it comes to events, Twitter is just one of a host of methods to get the word out.

4. A way to share thinking and research with others – This can happen either by typing 140 characters as a single message or by directing the reader to a blog or a website. Connecting people and ideas is easy when I see some resonance or possible common interests or goals. It’s also not as intrusive as an email; the broadcast approach of Twitter means people choose to engage with a tweet or not. The receiver of tweets can control and manage their own information, sharing or responding as they choose.

5. A way to build a positive community – Twitter makes it easier to communicate appreciation for others – for individuals or for organisational initiatives. It’s possible to send an expression of praise not just to one person in an email but to everyone who has chosen to follow you and is, therefore, by default, a part of your digital community. Of course, the reverse also holds true; criticism and negativity is just as easy to spread on Twitter. I consciously choose to use Twitter as a positive force. If I have an issue to deal with or a problem with a person or something that has happened, Twitter will not be my communication method. I only have control over my own tweets but I can choose to try and exemplify what I appreciate in others – particularly a sense of collaboration and a focus on continuous learning.

6. A way to be yourself – I do make conscious choices; I use Twitter and LinkedIn as my professional communication social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram are saved for my friends and family where I share a range of silly and serious topics, personno-foodal politics and family photos. But I also see something very positive in allowing who you are as a person shine through on Twitter – I have been known to post a picture from a great local festival or a Canadian winter driving scene; a link to a news story that has affected me deeply or a mention that I am finally heading off on a long anticipated holiday. However, I try not to share certain details – I’m not a chef and I know you don’t care what I made for lunch!

The best way to know if you will like Twitter is to try it. Read (listen) more than you tweet (talk) and there is much to be gained.

By Cindy Vallance, Head of Organisational Development, University of Kent
Twitter @cdvallance

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2 thoughts on “Twitter – Two Ears to Listen, One Mouth to Speak

  1. Josie Elson says:

    Thanks Cindy, I haven’t event looked at Twitter – I was quite proud of myself for being able to use Facebook. I’m going to give it a go now on your recommendation!

  2. […] have previously written about my use of twitter and […]

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