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Seb Anthony

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Listening skills


I am looking for a really complex exercise for a listening skills session. I want something different then the usual "chinese whispers" or listen to this paragraph type exercises.

I remember a while back hearning someone talking about an exercise involving a large ordanance survey map and it required the teams to comminicate directions from one point to another.

Has anyone got further detail on this or any other meaty listening skills exercises?

Sinead Walker

6 Responses

  1. Listening exercise
    Have a look at
    Its hard to recommend a specific exercise without knowing the purpose/ objectives and a little about the target group. However, here is one to consider. You could read out a witness statement (from a realistic but fictitious crime). Read it as the witness, not as a police officer. At the end ask them who tuned into facts (remembering the details), who tuned into feelings (picking up the distress, anxiety, anger etc.) and who tuned in to intent (what was unsaid, motives, what is not the full truth, etc.).
    Many of us have a prefered ‘frequency’ that we listen on – but sometimes we are listening to Radio 1 when they are broadcasting the most important message on Radio 4. Listening is not just about active listening skills and recall, it is also about listening holistically to the whole message.
    You might ask the group to get into pairs to discuss what they would say to or ask this person if they were interviewing them immediately after the crime (and then point out whether this is a fact, feeling or intent comment or question).
    In the workplace sometimes we need to check out factual details, sometimes empathise, sometimes work out whether something might be being held back. This requires a mix of emotional intelligence, cognitive reasoning and…skilful listening.
    But just make sure you gear it to those learning needs that will help them perform better in their role/context rather than getting hung up on the exercise itself.
    For skills practice, you can get them working in 3’s (rotating the roles of speaker, listener, observer/feedback giver). The speaker talks about a dilemma they have faced in the past. The listener has to actively listen. The observer has to look for indicators that the listener is on the same frequency as the speaker and feed back on this at the end. Of course, in doing this, the observer is also practicing their (passive) listening skills.
    Hope that helps
    PS If you do go with the map exercise, just be aware that those with lower spatial awareness may struggle and the results you get may have more to do with that than listening.

  2. Listening exercises – more info needed
    Hi Sinead – I have a number of exercises I use to good effect, however, it would be good to have a little more info on what you are trying to achieve and with whom to determine which is likely to be most suitable.

  3. Further information
    We recentley completed surveys on all our sales designers which has highlighted that they require development in a number of areas, one being listening skills.

    I want the exercise to be used to help the trainees to identify what level of listening skills they have so that we can then provide them with tips and techniques to improve/enhance their skills.


  4. Try the journey to work
    This is a simple, but good exercise, similar to the one you describe…

    My journey to work:

    Ask delegates to work in pairs to write down their journey to work in a very detailed way. E.g “I get in my car and turn right out of the drive. At the end of the street, I turn left and take the second right to join the main road.”

    Person A should then read their journey to person B. Person B should stop person A when they think they have heard as much as they can accurately repeat back – word for word. They should then say what they have heard. Person A should check whether this is accurate. If it is, they should carry on with the next stage of the journey. If it is not correct, they should repeat that part of the journey again until person B can recite it word perfectly. Continue this way until the journey is ended. Then swap over.

    Key learning points are that they are lots of distractions to effective listening, we have a very short attention span, and we tend to put things into our words (which can alter the meaning)

    Hope this is useful,


    Trainers Library have the exercise you mention, communication with walkie talkies and ordanance survey maps – they also supply (sell) the relevant maps on their Trainers Market section, as well as supplying trainers notes, handouts and so on.

    For a small monthly fee you can have full access to this exercise plus a whole host more

    Kidnest regards


  6. Listening Assessment
    I am the creator of LEAP-Listening Effectiveness Assessment Profile, which I have used for the last 8 years to help people discover their specific listening barriers. I use it as part of my Listening Effectiveness Seminar which I facilitate all over the US. The assessment is of the ‘rub off’ technology, like DISC. Feel free to email


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