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Three-Part Listening Exercise

This is a communication exercise to practice a helpful way to listen and reflect information. It is especially useful for mediation training. The purpose here is to practice separating out the content (facts or thoughts), the feelings (spoken and expressed through body language) and the values (what is important). It is helpful to brainstorm a list of feeling words (happy, sad, angry, frustrated, etc.) and a list of values (honesty, fairness, family, safety, etc.) Ask everyone to keep what is said confidential.

Directions: Divide into groups of four.
– Choose one person to begin — that person talks about “an upsetting situation” or about “people who annoy me”.
– The second person listens carefully for content information (facts and thoughts of the speaker);
– the third person listens for feelings – both spoken and underlying;
– the fourth person listens for the values expressed by the speaker.

The speaker should talk for 1-2 minutes. Then the three listeners, one at a time, paraphrase the content of the communication and reflect the content, feelings and the values heard. Each listener begins with the phrase “What I heard you say is…” Conclude by asking the speaker if you missed anything and paraphrasing anything else that is said. Repeat this process until each person has a chance to be in each role. The goal here is to listen for understanding in different ways, not to try to solve the problem.

Discuss what it felt like to be a speaker; which listening role was easiest or most challenging and why; what you learned from this exercise about conflict or conflict resolution.

Source: This is adapted from an exercise in The Mediator's Handbook by Jennifer E. Beer and Eileen Stief, New Society Publishers.

Recommended to calendar by: Marsha Blakeway

CRE Calendar Usage: 2nd Edition