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listening skills


I am re-writing a course which needs a listening skills exercise that does not include modelling bad listening skills, hooknhijack and then effective listening skills - in other words the tried and tested formula.

Anyone got an innovative suggestion? I'd be awfully grateful!!
andy phillimore

4 Responses

  1. not an exercise,but…
    Andy, in years gone by, we passed on knowledge through story telling, it worked! I always find that people are enthralled by stories of other people’s experiences, eg I recently had about 5 conversations with a close friend about a weekend jaunt, neither of us had listened properly, and we assumed the other had got the details result, I turned up at the meeting point a week early! Why not gather stories to illustrate your point?


  2. Listening Skills Exercise

    One of the best group exercises I’ve done to teach listening skills works like this. I tkink it might have been called the Talking Stick exercise, and I don’t know who invented it.

    You give the group a subject to discuss (you choose). Then you tell them that the rule is that only the person who is holding the magic marker (or pencil, or baton, or whatever) is allowed to speak. The rest must listen while that person is speaking. The second rule is that before another person can speak, the present speaker must have passed the magic marker (or whatever) to that person. It is strictly forbidden to grab the marker. Only the speaker can pass it on.

    I used to use this exercise when helping members of staff associations and staff representation systems to develop their listening skills, and it worked like a charm. Dominant managers were forced to wait, and militant staff members also. It also used to generate lots of behaviour to review after the exercise (eg. why did X hold on to the marker for so long? How did Y feel when they were trying to make a point but were prevented, etc).

    Try it, and let me know how you get on. It’s very simple and effective.



  3. Energizing exercise around communication
    A very quick exercise I have conducted involves in excess of 6 people. Each delegate must identify an object that they can hold in their hand (steady!!) such as a pencil, apple etc. These objects are then entered onto a flipchart or whiteboard. The only criteria is that there must be no duplication.

    You then ask all delegates to stand up in the centre of the room and when you say go, must pass their object, which is invisible to anyone else in the group, as they pass the object they must say what it is they are passing. This should continue with delegates giving and receiving of objects for a few minutes. At the end of the exercise ask each delegate to tell you what they have. What has always happened with myself is you gain more than one of some objects and lose completely others.

    This exercise is great fun, energises as well as instructs.

  4. Chinese Whispers
    I use the ‘Chinese Whispers’ game to illustrate the importance of listening. But it is amazing the amount of people who haven’t heard or even played it before so it’s important to stress the rules
    1. You are not allowed to ask questions or ask previous person to repeat.
    2. You must whisper the sentance.

    The good thing about this is that you always seem to get a laugh from the participants about the end result and you know that it’s important to make learning fun.



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