Module 17 - Listening 0
In-Class Exercise: To illustrate how people of good intention can still mishear or
misinterpret oral communication, play the “telephone game.” Have students get in a
circle. (Or have them get into groups of six; Kitty has particular success working
with this format, where student groups often playfully compete with one another for
which group can best keep the original message intact.) Start the game by
whispering a message in the ear of the first student. The following message,
developed and copyrighted by Norman Sigband, works very well: “Every year at
State University, the eagles in front of the Psi Gamma fraternity house were
mysteriously sprayed during the night. Whenever this happened, it cost the Psi Gams
from $75-$100 to have the eagles cleaned. The Psi Gams complained to officials and
were promised by the president that if ever any students were caught painting the
eagles, they would be expelled from school.”
Write the message down so you can read it verbatim, but don’t let anyone see it.
(Use Appendix 17-A at the end of the exercise to show students what was written.)
Tell that student to whisper the message to the next person, and then that person to
the next person, and so on around the room. Everyone must remain silent except for
the student who is speaking. Have the last student say the message aloud. Chances
are it will quite different from the original message. Afterward, have students
brainstorm why they believe the message changed.
Norman Sigband, Communication for Management, (Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman,
1969). p. 582.
Teaching Tip: Ask students to share experiences where they believe someone they
were speaking to was not listening. How could they tell? How did it make them
feel? Have students ever pretended to be listening to someone else when they
weren’t? What behaviors did they use to pretend? Why?
In-Class Exercise: If you’ve covered Module 2 already, have students in groups of
3-5 reconstruct the Communication Model (p. 23). If not, give them ten minutes to
review it in class. Once they’ve done so, have them spend another 10 minutes
examining where in the process communication can break down due to faulty
listening. Then have groups share their conclusions. What kinds of “noise” can
interfere with oral communication? How might the sender overcome such noise?
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