Relationship Rescue PDF

The Only Active Listening Worksheet PDF & Activity You Need

Mar 16, 2024
active listening worksheet

We've come a long way with how we use our words, from pointing and crying as infants to speaking multiple languages today - yet one question lingers: when did we learn to communicate truly?

I've realized that communication skills are an art form far removed from just talking. Consider those heartwarming, meaningful conversations where words flowed effortlessly, and a deep connection was unmistakable.

Contrast this memory with those frustrating, brick-wall conversations. Both instances involved individuals equipped with a lexicon of words, yet the experiences were poles apart. The essence of real, effective communication lies in our ability to give the gift of being understood to the people we care about.

Listening skills are a vital component of this art, and they go beyond catching words. Active listening skills are about tuning into emotions and Active listening skills unspoken words by being fully present, not just with your ears but with your heart, soul, and mind.

No one teaches us active listening skills, yet we desperately need to learn them.

When we practice active listening, we learn not just to hear but also to understand and feel, develop a sense of empathy, and have a deeper connection with our loved ones.

Download The Active Listening Worksheet & Exercises

Click here to get our Active Listening Worksheet and Active Listening Exercises - it's a mini guide to show you how to actively listen, and includes a listening activity I used all the time as the Clinical Director of an Adolescent Treatment Center. This is one of the most valuable tools that will really impact you and the conversations with people you have each day.

Active listening Skills in Counseling

As a psychotherapist, learning to listen is the first skill we really learn about in grad school. I literally had classes that were designed to help us practice active listening. Listening skills help show us how we can be with someone in a room and not pay quite so much attention to ourselves and even more attention to the other person.

The answer is with great difficulty.

It’s exhausting.

While it may appear straightforward, actively listening is a key skill many of us struggle to apply consistently because it is really hard! Trust me I use active listening or unbiased listening every day for a living. 

Often, we find ourselves distracted, thinking about what we want to add, share, teach, or comment on. It’s anxiety-provoking to sit still and listen actively and resist the urge to multitask, such as checking our phones during conversations.

In my private practice, I find that clients are listening to respond rather than listening to learn. This internal preparation of a response means we're no longer fully engaged with what's being communicated and in a way, no longer listening.

The experiential exercise in the worksheet PDF aims to develop and clearly distinguish between the art of effective active listening skills and more passive listening skills approaches—trust me, you won’t forget this exercise any time soon.

Four Essential Active Listening Skills You Can Use Today

The objective of practicing active listening techniques is to gain a true and thorough understanding of the speaker's perspective, even if it differs from your own. It's important to communicate this understanding then back to the speaker, allowing them to validate your interpretation's accuracy.

active listening worksheet and pdf/>


The PEAR Model: Active Listening Techniques To Use Now

This acronym, representing Paraphrasing, Explaining, Acknowledging, and Reflecting, provides listeners with a structured yet flexible framework for truly engaging with and understanding a speaker's message.

Paraphrasing, this step is about restating what has been said in different words and a gentle tone of voice. The magic of paraphrasing lies in its dual purpose: it checks for understanding on the part of the listener and allows the speaker to hear their own thoughts echoed back. It's a way of saying, "If I understand correctly, you're saying..." This method not only clarifies the message but also builds a bridge of empathy and better and more effective communication skills between the speaker and the listener

Explaining: here the listener encourages the speaker to explain more or to delve deeper. By asking for more details or a more in-depth exploration of a specific point, the listener aids in fostering a deeper understanding of the subject. You can do this with a question like, "Could you elaborate on that point?" or with nonverbal communication cues like a nod or a smile.

Acknowledging is the next vital step in the PEAR model. This is where the listener validates the speaker's emotions and content. It’s a powerful way of showing understanding and developing empathy itself. When a listener says, "I can see that this is important to you," it does more than just recognize the words; it acknowledges the feelings and emotions tied to those words.

Reflecting is about mirroring the speaker's feelings and content back to them. This is a deeper level of engagement where the listener is not only listening skills not only hearing but feeling the emotions of the speaker. By reflecting, the listener demonstrates a profound connection with the speaker’s emotional state. It’s about saying, "It sounds like you felt upset when that happened," which can be incredibly affirming for the speaker.

The Essential Do's And Don'ts Of Active Listening

Active listening is a skill that, when practiced effectively, can transform personal and professional relationships. However, as with any art, one must adhere to essential do's and don'ts. They serve as a roadmap for nurturing positive relationships and a genuinely communicative environment where every participant feels heard, understood, and valued.

Be Present

Demonstrating active listening involves full attention and utilizing both verbal and nonverbal cues to convey your attentiveness. Simple gestures like nodding in agreement, maintaining steady eye contact, and offering encouraging verbal affirmations such as "I see" or "Please, continue" can significantly enhance the speaker's sense of being heard and understood.

Reflect Back

To ensure clarity and comprehension, it's beneficial to paraphrase and reflect back what you've heard. This technique not only validates the speaker's words but also provides an opportunity to confirm your understanding. Phrases like "What I'm gathering from our conversation is..." or "It seems like you're expressing..." can help establish a mutual understanding and improve communication.

Open-ended Questions:

These can facilitate a deeper exploration of the speaker's perspective. By inviting them to elaborate further or clarify specific points, you demonstrate a genuine interest in understanding their viewpoint. Questions such as "Could you expand on that?" or "What are your thoughts on...?" encourage a more comprehensive exchange of ideas and better communication.


Validating the speaker's emotions, even in disagreement, is crucial for fostering a supportive and respectful dialogue. Acknowledging their feelings with statements like "I can appreciate why you might feel that way given the circumstances" demonstrates empathy and validates the importance of their emotional experience, thereby nurturing a more constructive conversation.

The Only Active Listening Worksheets You Need

The exercise outlined here is designed for clinicians and group facilitators eager to practice using active listening in their sessions and offer clients an insightful experience. It is also an opportunity for the instructor to impart psycho-educational elements about active listening, interpersonal relationships, and how to build strong relationships. This can be followed by a discussion to process and explain any reactions, feelings, or memories that arise.

The structure of this exercise is versatile in duration. Clinicians can adjust the length of conversations as needed, typically around 90 seconds to 2 minutes for each speaker. Participants can try using any number of roles, as the person to speak or listen. The facilitator should carefully consider the needs of each participant in the session, discerning who would benefit from experiencing active listening and who needs to understand its absence. Utilizing the "Evil Alternative Instructions" selectively can significantly help improve the listener's experience if you plan ahead a little.

In the first round, named "Inactive Listening," participants experience a lack of active listening. For example, if Annie and Billy are participating, Annie begins as an active listener with a friendly conversation with the speaker, while Billy plays the role of an inactive listener for 1-2 minutes. Then, they switch roles. Listeners and speakers receive instructions on how to act and what to say.

For an intensified impact, the facilitator can employ the Active Listening Twist or "Evil Alternative Instructions." These instructions are given to the second listener in the pair, in this case, Annie, to exaggerate the behaviors of an inactive listener so that the speaker, Billy, gets a sense of what it's like to NOT be heard.

In the "Active Listening" round, the dynamics shift as participants engage in genuine active listening. Once again, Annie and Billy will each take turns as speakers and listeners, but this time, they focus on practicing active listening techniques. This round allows participants to experience the positive, empathetic, and engaging aspects of active listening without the negative impact of being unheard.

The Active Listening Worksheets we've created guide you through this activity in more detail and help with processing reactions after the activity. Process questions are really important to help solidify insight and social-emotional learning experiences based on active listening. These exercises are designed to make understanding the speaker's perspective easier and improve communication skills effectively.

active listening worksheet and exercises />

Process Questions In The Active Listening Worksheet

Experiential activities, like the one described, tend to have a more profound impact when facilitators allocate time for participants to process and reflect on their experiences, which is why it's included in the active listeningExperiential activities, as the one described, tend to have a more profound impact when facilitators allocate time for participants to process and reflect on their experiences, which is what it's included in the active listening exercises pdf. This reflection phase is crucial as it allows participants to internalize the lessons learned from the activity and connect them to their personal and professional lives. The active listening worksheet has a section to help you guide your clients through listening and observing reactions.

As a facilitator, having a set of 'go-to' questions can be immensely helpful in guiding this reflective discussion on effective listening. The questions on the active listening worksheet are designed to encourage participants to delve deeper into their experiences, articulate their thoughts and feelings, and document them for the active listening future.

"What did you notice?"

This open-ended query prompts participants to think about their observations during the activity, whether about their behavior, body language, sensations, or the reactions of others. It sets the stage for introspection and helps participants become more aware of the environment and how it changes as you're developing active listening skills.

"What did you feel?"

This allows participants to explore the emotional aspect of their experience. This question is particularly important in activities centered around active listening, as it helps participants to connect with the emotional impact of being heard or not being heard. It can lead to revelations about how active listening or empathic listening influences emotional responses.

"What were your associations?"

This is a question that encourages participants to relate their experience in the activity to their personal or professional life. This question helps bridge the gap between the exercise and real-life applications, making the learning more relevant and impactful. It invites participants to think about how the skills practiced in the activity, such as active listening, can be applied in their daily interactions with clients, students, colleagues, or in personal relationships.

Learn more about conflict, family systems and growing great relationships

My People Patterns shares the best tools, techniques and knowledge from a family systems perspective - all aimed at helping you grow great relationships. Hit subscribe to learn more about our S.O.F.T approach to healthy connections.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.