Listening Skills

(50 minutes)

  • Have students read the Listening Tips article and watch the video on Active Listening.
  • Have each student write out three close-ended questions and three open-ended questions. Then pair up the students and have them ask each other the questions.  Ask them which type of question - open or closed - gets the most information from their partners.
  • Talk with students about how body language affects communication.
  • Have students read these scenarios and figure out which examples are using active listening and which are not.
  • Have students watch the following scenarios and choose if it is "Good" listening, or "Bad" listening.

Observations vs Judgments

(20 minutes)

  • Discuss with students the difference between observations and judgments. 
    • Observations are what we can see with a camera and hear with an audio recorder, without involving perceptions or assumptions. Observations describe what you actually see and hear. They do not evaluate.
    • Judgments evaluate, and are when we start to put perceptions, assumptions and biases into the mix. They often involve a right vs. wrong dynamic. (right vs. wrong way to do things, blame/counter-blame, offense/defense, etc.) 
    • When we communicate using judgments, people get defensive, angry, and respond in the same way if not more intensely, leading to a conflict spiral. 
    • When we communicate using observations of the situation, ourselves and our needs, we can change the focus of the conversation from blaming the other person to the problem that we would like to be solved. We can make observations about our own feelings because we know what we are feeling. 
  • Ask students to read these scenarios and decide whether the communication examples show observations or judgement.
  • Have students go through the handout on communication skills.
  • Have students use these skills at least three times in real life and then write about their experiences with this activity. (15 minutes)