Listening, Day 1

Course(s) Used:

  • Interpersonal Communication

Goals and Objectives:

  • Students are familiar with a model of the listening process.
  • Students understand barriers to effective listening and ways to improve.

Rationale: Listening is one of the least well-researched major areas of interpersonal communication. In addition, listening is one of the least-frequently taught areas of communication. Listening skills are often not included in traditional communication instruction.

Materials Needed


  • None


  • Classroom computer and projector

Outline of the Lesson

  1. Review of previous session’s content
  2. The Listening Process1
    1. Hearing (Selecting)
    2. Attending
    3. Understanding
    4. Remembering
    5. Responding
  3. Barriers to Effective Listening
    1. Being self absorbed “conversational narcissism” (only want to talk about self)
    2. Unchecked emotions (emotional noise, your reaction distracts you from message)
    3. Criticizing the speaker
    4. Speech Rate (125 wpm) vs. Thought Rate (brain can process 600 to 800 wpm)2
    5. Shifting Attention
    6. Information Overload / External Noise (distracters)
    7. Listener Apprehension
  4. Improving Listening Skills
    1. Determine your goal
    2. Mentally summarize relevant details of the message
    3. Use these summaries to identify a major point or series of major ideas
    4. Practice with challenging material (complicated, boring, poor speakers)
    5. Ask Questions
    6. Paraphrase Content
    7. Paraphrase Emotions
  5. Activity: Listening Skill Work
    1. Person #1 identifies a problem/conflict they are having with someone
    2. Talk with person #2, #3 rates #2’s listening skills, feedback, roles rotate.
  6. Debrief the activity
  7. Lesson closing


Students need to be released early to complete requirements of activity.

Variations and Accommodations

Follow guidance from local accommodation authorities.

  1. Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. II. (2015) Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (13th ed.). Oxford University Press. ^
  2. Versfeld, N. J., & Dreschler, W. A. (2002). The relationship between the intelligibility of time-compressed speech and speech-in-noise in young and elderly listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111(1, Pt. 1), 401-408. ^