Active listening is a difficult art to master. It takes a lot of attention, concentration, patience and objectivity to listen well. Practice is essential. Some games help college students develop these skills, which will enhance the students’ ability to listen closely -- and actively.
Games to Improve Attention
Paying close attention to a speaker is the first requirement of active listening. Maintaining attention isn’t easy, especially when the speaker or topic isn't interesting. Improve attention skills with games that require players to observe and remember details. Matching games -- like those that require players to remember the location of concealed images or find discrepancies between identical pictures -- build attentiveness. Make your own listening game out of reading a descriptive excerpt to players. Ask the players to list as many specific details as they remember, such as colors, dates, and names. The player who can accurately recall the greatest number of details wins.
Even when a college student consciously pays attention when listening, outside distractions can break his concentration. Memory games improve concentration skills by requiring players to recall images, sequences and patterns. To play a listening-based memory game among a group of students, begin a story and then instruct the group to take turns adding to the story. For example, start with, “I’m going on vacation and I’m bringing my bathing suit.” The first player to your right repeats the sentence and adds an item to the list. Continue until someone breaks the order.
Games for Improving Patience
Patience is a lacking virtue for many, especially in today’s hurried world. Games that require time and endurance to win provide good practice in patience, which will improve one’s ability to listen patiently to others. Among other things, chess necessitates a significant amount of patience, as does a game of solitaire -- or even a simple staring contest. Stacking games that require players to carefully pull a block from the tower and place it at the top without causing a tumble make for an amusing lesson in patience.
It is an inevitable truth that through experience comes biases, which makes objectivity a challenge for even the most tolerant and nonjudgmental people. Good listening requires students to remain objective and give the speaker a chance before making any judgments. Promote objectivity through a game of “Guess Where They Are Now.” Distribute a few short biographies of famous figures among students, with the celebrity names removed. Choose figures with varying backgrounds, such as a wealthy family and criminal history. Then, distribute brief character descriptions of the celebrity, and challenge students to match the biographies with the character descriptions. The point of the game is to expose judgments and to show that it is essential to remain objective as a key to understanding.
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