listening exercises can help you improve
your listening and your connection with
A few pointers on how to do the
exercises on this page.
exercises need to be done while sitting
face to face with a partner.
- Do the exercises in the order they
appear on this page.
- Take turns to practice so you both
can learn and appreciate the effects of
the exercises in the speaker and in the
Active Listening Exercises
Exercise 1: Face to face repeat
Your partner says one short paragraph,
you repeat it word for word. If you can’t
repeat it word for word, try doing the
exercise with a shorter sentence until you
can repeat it word for word.
Take turns with the other person at doing
the "repeat" exercise.
Consider this drill a warm up, to prepare
you for the next exercises.
Exercise 2: Face to face paraphrase
Sit face to face with someone else. Your
partner says a short sentence, you listen to
it, and render it back using similar words
and sentence structure. Rearrange words or
substitute words to give the message back to
you partner. Ask the speaker if the message
is still the same. Ask your partner if you
were able to paraphrase or if you are just
repeating. If the speaker tells you that you
are just repeating, dare to move words
around and to replace them with synonyms
until you can successfully paraphrase what
your speaker said.
Take turns with your partner, practice
this paraphrasing exercise until you both
feel you are good at paraphrasing a message
Exercise 3: Face to face reflect
This exercise requires your full
concentration and attention. Sit face to
face with a partner. First observe the
facial expression, the mood, the gaze of the
other person. Then ask your partner to give
you a sentence for you to reflect back to
Your partner tells you a sentence or two.
You listen, understand, think about it and
reflect it back to your partner using your
Ask your partner if you reflected the
message correctly. Ask him if you were in
tune with his feelings and mood. If you
successfully completed this exercise, your
(reflective) listening will make your
partner feel listened to and understood by
Keep doing these exercises, especially
the reflective listening exercises for as
many times as you think it’s needed to
master this listening skill.
Other Listening Exercises
Listen to all sounds around you: a
refrigerator humming, a keyboard clicking,
an air conditioning system rumbling. Listen
to the distant (and not so distant) traffic
noise; any airplanes flying by? Listen to
people working, people hammering, people
mowing the lawn. Listen to people talking,
people laughing, or crying. Listen to your
own noises, your own breathing.
Tell your partner what sounds you hear
and what you think about them. You may
discover you are analytical or judgmental
about sounds. See if there is a pattern to
your thoughts about sounds.
You may be thinking this listening
exercise sounds more like a mindfulness
exercise. Well, it is. In your journey to
become a better listener, you'll become more
mindful. There is not such as thing as a
good listener that is mindless. The point of
this mindfulness exercise is to make you
slow down and be mindful of what you hear.
Your auditory system is automatically
perceiving and differentiating sounds. Being
aware of this process can give you more
conscious control over what you chose to
Sit face to face with a partner. Your
partner will say a color, e.g. red. You
respond: “red”. Your partner says another
color: “blue”, you respond: “blue”. Your
partner says another color and so forth.
Each time you respond back with the color
your partner said.
Increase the speed at which you respond
to the other person. As soon as he starts to
say a color, you respond until you are
almost saying the colors at the same time.
You will be surprised at the results. Let
me ruin the surprise by telling you that by
the end of the exercise you and your partner
will be saying colors at the same time. You
may feel that your partner is reading your
mind, he may feel the same way about you.
You may ask what’s the point of this
exercise. The point is to become aware that
we can tune into someone else’s space much
farther than we currently do. We have the
capability to focus and pay attention in
ways that we usually don’t.
You can do this exercise every time you
are part of an argument or a witness of
somebody else’s argument. Put yourself in
the shoes of other people; try viewing the
world through their point of view.
No need to over-analyze it, just listen
for cues that tell you what’s driving people
to say what they say and to do what they do.
You can think of this as solving a jigsaw
puzzle. You start with the pieces of what
people say and do, then you add their frame
of reference, what you know about them, and
then you add the current circumstances of
the argument. Try not to second guess, try
to listen for cues.
The point of this exercise is to help you
detach from your own point of view; being
attached to our own point can be a barrier
Practice these listening exercises
until you can complete them successfully.
The exercises can also help you become a
better listener, and by default a better