Wear Walking Shoes MOTIVATION SHOW RETURNS The Motivation Show, the combination of the 28th Incentive Travel & Meeting Executives (IT&ME) Show and the 67th National Premium/Incentive Show, returns to Chicago's McCormick Place October 10 to 12. And back for its 23rd year will be the PGI Pizzathon, set for Wednesday from 8 p.m. until closing at the Hangge-Uppe bar in the Rush Street area. PGI is the events and communications company based in Arlington, Va.

Also back this year is the Intra-Industry Reception, which will open the show on October 9. Sponsored by the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives, the event will be held this year at the Hyatt Regency's new Crystal Ballroom. Call SITE at (212) 575-0910 or visit www.site-intl.org.

For Motivation Show registration information, call Hall-Erickson at (800) 752-6312 or send e-mail to customerservice @motivationshow.com.

Listen Up . . . If you're anything like the senior executives Helen Wilkie writes about in her book, Message Received and Understood! (MHW Communications, 1999), that's not such a simple task for you. The Toronto-based author's thesis is that effective communication doesn't happen unless you know how to listen.

The higher up you are on the corporate ladder, the more likely you are not to listen correctly, Wilkie suggests. "When I ask senior executives about communication in their companies, they often launch into descriptions of roundtable events," she says. "But further discussion reveals that these meetings are a forum for them to tell people things. If they took the opportunity to listen, they might be surprised at how valuable this process can be."

Here are some of her rules for "lively" listening: 1. Decide to listen. Make the decision to absorb what the person is saying, rather than just letting them talk.

2. Avoid selective listening. Don't discount the opinions of people you dislike.

3. Give acknowledgment and feedback. Let the speaker know you are paying attention, either verbally or nonverbally, and acknowledge feelings as well as words.

4. Ask questions. Questions confirm or clarify meaning, and can move conversations in new directions.

5. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Body language and tone of voice reveal a lot.

6. Separate fact from opinion and propaganda. "You need to know when someone gives you a commercial disguised as a fact," Wilkie says, "because top-level decisions should be made on the basis of unbiased information."

7. Control your emotional response. Know your hot buttons so you can react appropriately and move on. For more information go to www.mhwcom.com.

Incentive use is on the rise in the American workplace, with an increase in incentive budgets both last year and this year, according to a survey conducted for Fenton, Mo.-based American Express Incentive Services.

Of 860 incentive decision-makers polled last October, 47 percent increased their incentive budgets for that year, while 50 percent anticipated another increase in 2000.

Dallas-based Savitz Research Solutions surveyed marketing, sales, operations, and human resources executives in several industries, including insurance and financial services.

Incentive purchasers also ranked different kinds of incentive rewards: Topping the list of most "memorable" reward options was travel (86 percent), followed by retail gifts (67 percent), and cash (58 percent).

After a one-year hiatus, the famous Flatlanders Weekend returned to National Life of Vermont's Montpelier headquarters. This "reverse fam" is National Life's way of saying thank you to suppliers the company has worked with recently. Attendees stay at Hopkins House, the company's charming guest house.

Pictured, front row, from left:

Kim Bradford, Orient-Express Hotels; Roxanne Kohlhof, KSL Resorts; Shari Wallack, Worldwide Cruise Associates; Marian Gardiner, Insurance Meeting Network; Patti Mottolese, Destination Hotels and Resorts; middle row, from left: Carol Brock, Hilton International; Jennifer Chapin, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts; Mike O'Connor, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts; Jack Gage, The Broadmoor; back row, from left: John Jeffrey, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Mario Villalobos, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises; and Lynn Averill, National Life of Vermont

* Mohegan Sun, a casino in Uncasville, Conn., that is in the midst of an $800 million expansion that will turn it into a resort and gaming complex, recently announced that it is requiring all its conference services staff and senior managers to earn a CMP or CMM within a year. The property will underwrite the application and examination for qualified managers and directors.

* Planners faced with shrinking lead time for high-end meetings of up to 25 people might consider a new service from Starwood's Luxury Collection. Executive Meeting Services guarantees a response to your request within 24 hours, and that's just the beginning. Your contact stays with you throughout the meeting, and can arrange airport transfers, food and beverage, AV, software consulting for programs such as PowerPoint, entertainment tickets, restaurant reservations, and room amenities. Call (877) MEETING.