Method: Improving Powerful Listening Skills

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Participants try out powerful listening in simluations. They experience the reciprocal action between sender and addressee and reflect the impact of powerful listening during a moderated discussion.


Participants learn discussion and listening skills. They reflect how empathy and disagreement balance in a civilized discussion culture.


1. Introduction

Our scenario is a discussion in a small group from 3 persons. Here two people discuss a controversial topic following the following rules: Staring with your contribution, first repeat the main points of your opponent. Then develop your argumentation based thereupon. The third person is an observer and referee. [15 minutes]

Present the rule on a chart:

New contribution

A starts with a statement


B repeats ("I heard, that..."; "You think, that...").


A confirms. If not, B is allowed to try out again.


New contribution

B now develops his/her opposite argumentations.


A repeats.


B confirms.


New contribution


Now introduce the observer. He or she cares for the rules and acts as a timekeeper. But the main task is to note the argumentative specifics and the body language. After the simulation the observer gives feedback.

2. Talks in the small groups

The groups identify conflicting topics like gender balance in boards, bicycles, corruption, or whatever your participants like to discuss... After four minutes there will take place a small exchange and then the next turn will take place (three turns in total).

Change after six minutes until everybody played every role [15 minutes]


In the whole audience the facilitators ask for a feedback:

  • What was new?
  • How did I feel as A/B/C
  • How to implement powerful listening in my practice?


  • Repeating helps to clarify things first.
  • The method takes out emotion.
  • It reduces speed, what can be de-escalating.
  • The arguments become shorter and more precise.



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