A practical exercise to help your listening skills

I follow Judy Rees, of x-ray listening, and get her regular e-mail updates. She is an expert on listening and "clean language" which I have blogged about before and uses the concept of exploring metaphors iin order to understand people better. This morning her e-mail included this short exercise wwhich I thought would be rather fun.Try it out and improve your listening skills.

 This week, we're going to work directly on your listening skills with a short exercise. You'll need a friend to help, but there's a risk that they might actually enjoy it!

Offer to listen to your friend for two minutes, as they talk about something that's important to them.

Your job is to keep them talking, without speaking. If they stop talking, stay silent and wait for them to start again.

You can nod or make encouraging sounds, but:


  • DON'T ask any questions
  • DON"T offer your opinion
  • DON"T start telling your story of when something similar happened to you...
  • In short, DON'T interrupt!


Set your phone's stopwatch (really!) and get listening. At the end of the time, ask your "listenee" how they found the experience.

For many people, it's the longest they've been listened to in years! Even though it's an unfamiliar experience, most people enjoy being listened to - it makes them feel very special.

And do notice how it went for you, as listener. Did you manage to complete the exercise? If so, well done! Did two minutes feel like a long time? Did you feel an almost unbearable urge to ask a question or tell a story?  

And did you take on board what you were told? Could you draw a diagram or picture? Try it now.