Active listening is an integral part of any successful interaction. It aids in improving communication skills making it possible for people to understand each other better. Given here are some exercises for students and adults to help them become better listeners.
Effective communication plays a major role in helping us understand one another better. Any successful interaction depends a great deal on our ability to efficaciously convey our thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Active listening plays an important role here. The ability to listen attentively helps improve relationships and reduces arguments and conflicts.
There are various activities that can help people become better listeners. These activities not only teach you to pay attention to what the other person is trying to say but understand it without being biased or distracted. The techniques include paying complete attention in order to distinguish between changes in voice intonations, looking for cues in facial expressions and body language to comprehend the other person’s point of view sans prejudices.
Dr. Thomas Gordon, a clinical psychologist, developed the Gordon Model of Communication which aims at building and maintaining effective relationships. This model also emphasizes on active listening to help people resolve conflicts and maintain cordial relations at home, school, or workplace.
Activities For Students
The importance of teaching youngsters the art of active listening cannot be denied. After all, the future depends on them. Poor listening skills can lead to conflicts, and is one of the main reasons for causing a communication gap. Therefore, these activities will teach youngsters to express themselves articulately, be understanding in their attitude towards others and appreciate their point of view, thus helping them mature into responsible adults.
This activity is suitable for all age groups. It requires a large space as it involves physical activity. The teacher can also participate in this game. Make the group stand in a circle. The teacher then calls out a student’s name and passes a soft toy or a ball to him, who in turn passes it to another person after calling their name.
This process continues and everybody gradually becomes alert in order to catch the ball immediately after their names are called out. The element of surprise will make them listen more carefully and watch out for their names. This activity works well for improving your concentration and listening skills.
Divide the class into groups, and make each group stand in a line. Make several cards and have different phrases written on them. Shuffle the cards. Let the first person in each line choose one card and read the phrase written on it. Then he/she has to whisper the phrase to the next person in the line.
This continues till it reaches the last person in the line who has to say the phrase aloud. This activity will teach students that active listening is an important part of effective communication and helps everyone convey their messages clearly.
Tell Your Story
For this activity, make the group sit in a circle. The teacher then gives the title of the story and asks the first person to begin the story by narrating the first few lines. The teacher then asks the next person to continue the story on the same lines of the previous speaker. This continues till all the members get a chance to tell the story. The trick here is that all the members should repeat what the previous person has said and add to the story as well.
Besides, the story narrated by all the members should be along the same line. The member whose story does not make sense and is not related to what the previous speaker has said is declared ‘out’. This activity will teach students the importance of listening carefully as well as how to summarize and correctly interpret what is being said.
Activities for Adults
These are some exercises that could be used for leadership training or in a workplace to enhance communication.
The “Were You Listening?” Quiz
For this activity, each participant is asked few questions about themselves or their likings – like “Describe yourself”, “What do you do in your free time?”, “Who is your favorite author?”, etc. by the others. All members listen to the others as well as share information about themselves. The supervisor has to make a note of the answers given by each participant.
Then he takes a quiz to see if they have really listened carefully to each other, and randomly asks the members to describe the others. They will have to recall and identify the answers given by each person. The trick here is that you need to be focused and attentive to remember which person had said what to describe themselves.
Active Listening Discussion
Divide the group into pairs and let each pair have a listener and a speaker. The speaker is then given a situation which he speaks on as the listener actively listens to him. Then the listener tries to rephrase the speech, i.e. expresses the same message in different words and offers his solution or feedback to the speaker.
The performance of both the listener and speaker is reviewed and they are asked to swap roles. This exercise helps improve communication skills and the ability to understand what others are saying. These skills can help you work efficiently with each other.
Divide the participants into two teams, A and B. Choose a passage from a book or magazine and ask one participant at a time (either team A or B) to read aloud the same. Next, ask them to read the same passage but with some alterations in the content.
The team that points out the changes in the passage first is awarded a point. This continues and the team that scores the maximum points is declared the winner. This activity calls for careful listening to understand and point out the changes made in the original passage.
To encourage active listening, it is necessary to completely refrain from doing other things and give full attention to the speaker. This will promote a greater sense of understanding and improved communication between two parties thereby fostering long-lasting relationships.