Barriers to listening

20 minutes

Create a safe and positive learning environment by agreeing ground rules for the session.

Download the session: Barriers to Listening

In this session we will learn:

  • how active listening can help ourselves and others
  • how to recognise our own internal dialogue
  • to develop active listening skills



Use this session as a starter to ‘Developing listening skills’



  1. Ask the students to sit for one minute in silence. Then ask them to tell the person next to them as many thoughts as they can remember from that one minute. This is our internal dialogue. Sometimes, when we are meant to be listening, if we do not focus on what is being said, our mind can wander. Show the ‘internal dialogue’ slide as an example.
  2. In pairs, label students A, B, C and D. Everyone should think about something they would like to do at the weekend. A talks to B, and C talks to D for two minutes while the partner does not talk at all. Then in groups of four, repeat what has been said to the rest of the group.
  3. Then swap the groups so B is talking to A and D is talking to C and tell listeners that they are not to talk at all – but when their inner chatter switches on they have to put their hand in the air for a moment. After two minutes ask how this went. How did it feel as the talker and listener?
  4. We feel listened to when what we are saying has clearly been heard. We feel valued and understood. Ask students how easy/hard they found it.
  5. Optional: Share the ‘Barriers to listening’ factsheet to reinforce understanding.



What barriers can stop us really listening to someone?



This session links to: Supporting a friend | Finding a way forward | Making assumptions

Make sure young people know what support is available and how to access this support.