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Diplomacy in Action

Chapter 5: Group Focus Session 2: Active or Empathic Listening


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Group Size: Class

Time needed: one class period 45-60 minutes

Physical Set up: Normal classroom with desk or table in front of the room to simulate a guidance office.

Materials: Listening Test (Bus Driver) Overhead with the 4 rules of active listening or black board or whiteboard or flip chart with rules written out.  Should not be displayed until introduction is complete.

Goal: To model and practice active listening skills.

Procedure: Use meet and greet activity - listening test - (Bus Driver)

Presenter should be very familiar with the essential information section of this chapter and understand Active Listening and the 4 rules.

Presenter asks for a volunteer to role play a communications lesson with them.  Volunteer is instructed to play the role of a student goint to the guidance counselor for an appointment to discuss going to vocational technical school after graduating from high school to learn to do computer repair.  THis person should not be very interested in getting information.

Presenter invites volunteer into "office" for a scheduled meeting and immediately the student models very bad listening skills.
1. Have solution available before hearing the problem.  "Boy have I got a good idea for you!  Let me tell you about this...."
2. Act Judgmental - "Why would I want to do anything silly?  I would never do that!  Boy is that dumb."
3. Interrupt counselor by asking questions, eating lunch, reading magazine, combing hair..."
4. Do not allow counselor to finish sentences.  Interrupt thought process and never allow silence.

After 3-5 minutes of role play interrup the session, thank volunteer and ask class what they thought about the "counseling session".

Brainstorm problems on the board or flipchart.

Introduce concept of active listening using overhead.  Compare the brainstormed list to overhead rules.  How many rules were violated?  How many times?

Follow up: Assign students to work groups of three.  One student is to play the speaker, one the listener, and one the observer.  Have the same students practice one session of poor active listening, and switching roles one session of good active listening skils.

The observer should keep notes of the experience and be prepared to share observations with the larger class group.

Have observers report on their notes, recording the best and the worst listening skills.

Multi vote the top three best and the bottom tree worst listening skills.

Reflection: Journal entries: Note one time in life that you observed real life poor or good listening skills.  Reflect which listening skill will be hardest for you to practice.

The 4 Rules of Active Listening
1. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.
2. Be non judgmental.
3. Give your undivided attention to the speaker.
4. Use silence effectively.

 

Listening Test - Script

Here is a listening test that has been used for many years.  It is a fairly common listening test and you may have seen it or taken it before.  If you have seen it please do not reveal the answers to others.  Do not make any sounds when you figure out the answer as it may give a clue to others.

Test Directions:
Don't overcomplicate this test.  You may make notes if you wish.  You may figure out the answer in your head.

Pretend that you are a bus driver.
It is your job to drive the Main Street Bus.
One day you get on the bus and you start to count.
At the first stop 5 people get on your bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 2 people get of the bus.
At the next stop 2 people get off the bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 1 person gets off the bus.

Finished.

Here is the question.  What color are the eyes of the bus driver?

Raise your hand if you know the answer.
(Usually at this point less than 25 % of the group will know the answer.  The reader should display anger at the incompetence of the group.  Raise your voice, pound the desk, be angry!)

Ok, for those of you who got it wrong I will give you one more chance.  Ready?

Pretend that you are a bus driver.
It is your job to drive the Main Street Bus.
One day you get on the bus and you start to count.
At the first stop 5 people get on your bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 2 people get off the bus.
At the next stop 2 people get off the bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 1 person gets off the bus.

Ok, here is the question.  Raise your hand if you know what color the eyes of the bus driver are.
(Usually at this point less than 60% of the group will know the answer.  The reader should display more anger at the continued incompetence of the group.  Raise your voice louder, pound the desk, be very angry!)
What!
Some of you still don't have the answer!

Ok, here it is one last time....
Pretend that you are a bus driver.
It is your job to drive the Main Street Bus.
One day you get on the bus and you start to count.
At the first stop 5 people get on your bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 2 people get off the bus.
At the next stop 2 people get off the bus.
At the next stop 3 people get on and 1 person gets off the bus.

Ok, for the last time, here is the question.
Raise your hands if you know what color the eyes of the bus driver are.
(According to research by the authors. 87% of the people taking the test for the first time will not be able to correctly answer the question.  The second time people are given the test immediately following the first test 50% will still not be able to answer correctly.  The third time people are given the test on the same day immediately following the preceding test 20% will still not be able to answer correctly.)

So how did you do?

Now. Lets discuss shy people so often answer incorrectly.
What went wrong?

Surveys of individuals who incorrectly answered more than twice say things like:
"I thought it was going to be a math question."
"I was busy counting and missed the beginning statement."
"I was trying to figure out what the question was so I didn't listen to the beginning."

Each of the statements suggests the problem although all of them deny the answer.  When you preconceive an answer to a question before the question is completed you weren't listening.  When you began to think about what it is you will say as someone else is speaking, you aren't listening.  When you begin to formulate your response you stop listening.

The answer is the most common problem in communication.  People were not listening.  Their minds may be on other things.  Listeners may hear what they wish to hear.



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