Market Deeping, Peterborough, UK
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Listening Skills Exercise
This exercise teaches us how to listen to each other and helps us feel heard by our partner.
The objective is to:
Listen to your partner speak for two whole minutes about the day they have had or whats going on for them at the moment and being silent while they speak. You may nod, smile, and make hmmm type of noises to show you are listening. Only talk about the current day (not your relationship at the moment).
Practice this at least 3 times a week but every day is good. Choose and plan between you a suitable time for both that is suitable like an evening at 730pm. 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 (not the talker) holds an object. If youre finding it difficult to let just one person talk then 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 do I listen properly?
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 two 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 because of something that happened with your partner, use respectful wording, even if angry about something and alter the wording.
Instead of saying ‘You did this and I was annoyed ’ or ‘you this or you that, or ‘you always….’ and change it to
‘When this happened, or when you said that it made me feel…..’
‘I felt that you didn’t listen’
Use ‘I’ sentences instead of starting with ‘YOU’
However remember that we are practising listening skills, it is harder to not respond if the other person is talking about us so you have to try really hard not to respond and defend your corner. Because if that’s how they experienced it or that’s how they felt then it just is.
After the 2 minutes are up, then both are to sit in complete silence for a minute and neither are to respond to anything that was said. Just listenning, feeling heard. No response needed.
Once you both feel you have learned how to listen better and not get defensive, then you can add this:
After the talker has finished, the listener is to reflect back to the talker a summary of what the talker described.
IE ‘Sounds like a good day except for that part’
‘Sounds like a terrible day you had I bet you’re exhausted’