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Developing listening skills


I have all the usual exercises about developing listening skills that address the common barriers to listening but I want something that could be used as a role play or group based activity to try to illustrate:

1. how good (or not)people are at listening
2. at what point people stop listening
3. how to improve listening skills
Lucy Tallis

7 Responses

  1. listening solutions
    The good old party game, Chinese whispers, is a good one for demonstrating how good or not people are at listening. E-mail me at [email protected] for further ideas.

  2. Listening exercise – a new one?
    Lucy: A lot depends on what you mean by “all the usual….”! Have you tried a grown-up version of Chinese Whispers? Send half the group out of the room, then bring them in one by one to relay, without notes, a brief story / news item that you have read to the first person. The other half (or however many) have a checklist of key points to trace how and where the listening and retention get weaker or fail.

  3. listening skills
    The “my most” exercise is an absolute cracker!
    1. get delegates to generate a list of extremes that could describe an experience
    2. give the “script”…up to two minutes to describe “my most……experience”
    3. go for it!…no prep time, no notes (video the whole delivery by all delegates one after the other.) insert a few wobblies to distract people in a realistic but non intrusive way.
    4. Ask each delegate to summarise the TOTAL content of each other delegates speech
    5. check back what they thought they said, what people thought they heard and what was actually said.

  4. Listening, questioning, clafifying
    What I call “LQC”.
    1 Get participants to write down 3 favourite pastimes/hobbies.
    2 Exchange list with person next to you.
    3 Recipient chooses subject from list they find LEAST interesting.
    4 They then have 2 minutes to find out as much as they can about that subject.
    5 Swap over and repeat 3 & 4.
    6 You pick on some people to summarise to the group what they found out.

  5. blindfolds as an aid to listening
    A great way to get people to really listen (ie not use body cues or other non verbals) is to ask them to discuss something that is common to them but with blindfolds. Get the delegates sitting in a circle and use those great slumber shades they give out in hotels and aircraft. The blindfolds will cause them to really focus on what is being said without any of the “noise” that distracts the listener that come from the environment. Ask them to do this and compare with an earlier session without the blindfolds. It has never failed me as an exercise.
    Also, try “skilled discussion””dialogue” techniques to really get listening going (you can find them in the Sixth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge.
    Let us know how you get on if you use them!

  6. Blindfold Buddies
    Try this – it starts amusing but gets serious.
    Pair delegates. Blindfold one of the pair then send them for lunch. Blindfold must not be removed. Blind person is dependent upon listening skills to get fed appropriately. Also develops precision in giving instructions and working trust that the partner will not contaminate the intake!. Can obviously be done with smaller tasks like drawing diagrams.
    Good luck

  7. Simple, fun and very effective exercise for Listening Skills
    Sit delegates back to back, each draws a picture of their choice. The breif is to produce an exact replica of their partner’s drawing without seeing it. They can discuss anything, but cannot see it. Give them 2 mins per drawing. They then compare and contrast – the results give you so much opportunity to discuss listening skills such as assuming, interpretation, etc. Good luck.


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