Listening Skills Exercise
Listen to your partner speak for three whole minutes about the day they have had and be silent while they speak. You may nod, smile, and make hmmm type of noises to show you are listening.
Practice this at least 3 times a week. Choose and plan a suitable time for both that is suitable like an evening at 730pm or plan to be spontaneous. When you swap for the other to have a turn, you can do this straight afterwards or a separate time or on separate days.
Who arranges it?
You could decide who is going to make it happen and take the lead on arranging it. Or you could take it in turns to arrange it. Whoever is responsibility it is for that turn its their job to make it happen and take place.
Setting the scene
Turn off anything that is likely to interrupt you or distract you like music, phones, TV’s etc Decide who’s going to talk first and the OTHER person,
the listener holds an object. Choose an object you’re both happy with. A ball, a teddy, even a tea towel. This means that the person practicing listening skills is the one DOING something. The object helps us remember that we are ‘actively’ listening and also helps the person practice being aware of their own thoughts they might normally say, but not responding to your own thoughts by interrupting no matter how important it seems. This is the hardest thing to learn to do.
How to be quiet (for the listener)
Staying relaxed means that you will be more able to stay quiet and not respond to your ideas and thoughts that come up. See if you can make you’re muscles heavy or floppy. Notice your breathing. Monitor it and breathe in and out slowly. This helps you to relax while listening. The more this is practised, the easier it becomes.
- You are not required to do anything except look like you’re listening.
- It has to be remembered that these three minutes are about the other person and not yourself. You’re giving them a full two minutes of your time.
- You are not required to solve, offer advice or share anything similar that happened to you or offer any type of suggestion or response.
- You are not ‘allowed’ to defend, respond or counter anything that is said.
- After the talker has finished, do NOT respond to anything that may have been said about you by way of defending, explaining or anything. (it is only their perception and how they feel. It is not necessarily a reflection on you or who you are). Nothing is needed. Just swap over and talk about your day.
How to talk
You can describe your day in your two minutes or an event that happened at the shop or driving or anything you like. If you have to mention the other person use respectful wording, even if angry about something and alter the wording. Instead of saying ‘I was annoyed because you did this…’ or ‘you thought…..’, ‘you always….’ and change it to
‘When this happened, or when you said that it made me feel…..’
However remember that we are practising listening skills, it is harder to not respond if the other person is talking about us.
If you feel confident, you could take this to a further level like this.
After one person has spoken, the listener (at the end of the 3 minutes) is to reflect back to the talker a summary of what they think they heard.
IE ‘Sounds like a good day except for the part where the canteen was closed’
‘Sounds like a terrible day you had I bet you’re exhausted’