Active Listening

Description: A simple exercise done in pairs where they take turns speaking and listening and then feeding back what has been heard.  Active Listening is NOT the same as Deep Listening.

Purpose(s): To help people experience how it feels to be an active listener.

Time: 25-30 mins

Resources: None, unless you want to use a chime or bell to mark change over times.

Instructions: In pairs: listener and talker. Talker has 3-4 mins to describe what they want from a holiday but without mentioning a destination.  Listener has to practice active listening skills – listening attentively to what is being said and to what is not quite being said, and demonstrating their listening to the talker by their behaviour.

After 3-4 mins the listener has 1 minute to summarise the 3 or 4 main issues or criteria that they have heard the talker express.  They then make a tentative suggestion of a suitable destination.

Then give the first talker 1 min to review how close the listener was to what they said and needed, and another 1 min to review how well they demonstrated active listening behaviours. Then swap roles and repeat.

Follow this with a group discussion to review and draw out the key learning points. You can substitute a content related equivalent to replace the holiday scenario.

Second part of Active listening, to get across the point

Ask each person to write the names of three people whom they consider to be good listeners. You may need to check each participant has written three names (some find it difficult). Then I ask the group if anyone has written the name of a person they don't like. Usually nobody writes the name of a person they don't like.

Then ask if the three people they have written, come in any one of these categories - liked by them, loved by them or respected by them. The response normally is "Yes".

Now ask them, if they are to be liked or loved or respected by others, how should they be?

They see the point that they need to be good listeners if they are to be liked, loved or respected by others.

Resources required: Games Resource List (PDF, 124 KB)