The following article will tell you about some ways in which you can carry out certain active listening exercises to improve this skill.
Listening. Simply listening to someone. That is a skill that most people lack. Look around you and you’ll find that all those instances of miscommunication take place because of people’s severe lack of listening skills. Listening to others can prevent several instances of miscommunication and thereby a lot of problems.
It is therefore a really important skill to develop for both – personal and professional relations. Unfortunately though, we as a society do not stress on developing effective listening techniques. The following article will take you through some of the basic active listening exercises and show you how to go about instilling this skill in you
Active Listening Activities
Active listening skills exercises? Why are they important, you might wonder. It’s because they help build better intra-personal and inter-personal skills. Practice these active listening activities and you’ll see how much you benefit from them.
- Always maintain eye contact with a person while they are speaking. This shows that you are paying complete attention to what they have to say. It also prevents you from drifting into your own thoughts.
- Take the effort to really listen to a person instead of fazing out into your own dreamworld.
- Mentally try and repeat what they are saying back to yourself so that you are aware of what is being said.
- Do not interrupt someone when they are speaking to you. Not only is it insulting, but you’ll leave out on important information too.
- Do not be judgmental when a person is talking. This blocks your clear thinking and understanding and instead of listening to them, you expend your energy in forming opinions or wondering how to repute their points.
- After they’ve spoken and there are still doubts lingering, first, repeat what they have stated (in your own words) so that they know that you have been listening and understanding their points. Then get clarifications by asking questions so that there are no doubts harbored.
- One great way to pay attention and understand what the other person is saying is to provide proper feedback. This will involve verbal methods (saying ‘uh huh’ or ‘OK’), as well as using a positive body language (nodding your head, smiling).
These are some of the active listening activities that you can try and work on and inculcate in your daily routine. These are just some tips that will help you become better listeners.
Active Listening Games
Other than the exercises mentioned above, here is an interesting way of how you can become better listeners – by playing games. Using games as a learning tool is one of the simplest and most interesting ways to improve your listening abilities. There are certain games that have been specifically designed to help you acquire effective listening skills. Here are some of the same that you can try out.
Divide a group of people into two teams and choose a person in each team who will take the tag. Blindfold him/her. Now clear out the entire area and create ‘dangers’ at regular intervals. These are the places that the tagged person cannot go near.
The entire team has to guide the tagged person from the starting point to the end mark without letting him touch the danger points. This game works at two levels – one, it teaches the tagged person to listen to all instructions given, and two, it teaches the teammates to develop effective communication skills.
Divide a large group into Group A and B. Then ask some people from group A to pay close attention to the story you tell and ask them to calculate the number of times you say the word ‘then’. Ask some others to count the number of times you say the word ‘so’. Do not give any such instructions to group B. Then relate a short story to them.
At the end of the story, ask them questions relating to the story. You’ll find that the people from group A who were asked to calculate the words ‘then’ and ‘so’ will be unable to answer the questions related to the story, while those from group B will have no such problem. This game shows you the different types of listening and the way it works.
Pause, Stop and Start
This is one of the most effective exercises that one can adopt in order to learn steps to effective listening. In this, a group of people are seated in a circle. A person is appointed as the mediator who will overlook the proceedings. A person is tagged and asked to start relating a story or an incident.
While he is in the middle of the story, the mediator stops him and asks the next person to continue. The next person has to continue from where the first person left off by repeating the last sentence and adding to the same. As this pattern sets in place, the mediator switches the technique and stops the tagged person and asks a random person in the circle to continue instead of going in sequence.
This could put the person in a fix if he has not been listening properly. This game helps in two ways. One, it shows whether the group has been paying proper attention and two, it forces the group to pay attention because it could be any one’s turn next.
Try inculcating the gist of these active listening exercises and bring them into practice as soon as you can. Make them a part of your life and you will see a difference in not only your way of listening and interacting, but also in the way people talk to you and respect you.