created by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council
Activities for Teams, Innovators
and Change Agents
MindShift is a collection of tools, games, and activities to inspire innovation, teamwork and engagement in health care settings.

Just Listen

This activity encourages participants to communicate how they think and feel about a subject. It is intended to strengthen team members’ listening skills.


Download Activity Worksheet

  • 25-30 minutes
  • Minimum of 2
  • 8 index cards per pair; each card lists 1 discussion topic

  • Source: Adapted from MindTools

What to do

Listening is an incredibly important part of good communication; however, it is a skill that people often ignore in team activities. This exercise can show team members how to listen with an open mind.

  1. In advance of the session, prepare enough index cards for each team of two to have its own set of eight cards. Each card will have a different discussion topic listed on it (e.g. the role of culture in health care, trust in our work, patient safety, etc.).
  2. Ask everyone present to pair off.
  3. Provide each pair with their own set of eight index cards.
  4. One partner blindly chooses a card and then speaks for three minutes on how they think and feel about that topic. Their partner cannot speak during this time – their primary goal is to listen.
  5. After three minutes, the listener has one minute to recap what their partner said. They cannot debate, agree, or disagree – only summarize.
  6. Next, the roles switch and teams begin the process again.

Debrief

  • How did speakers feel about their partners’ ability to listen with an open mind?
  • Did their partners’ body language communicate how they felt about what was being said?
  • How did listeners feel about not being able to speak their own views on the topic? How well were they able to keep an open mind? How well did they listen?
  • How well did the listening partner summarize the speakers’ opinions? Did they get better as the exercise progressed?
  • How can we use the lessons from this activity in our day-to-day work?
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