Mindful Listening Exercise

Mindful Listening Exercise

How often do you truly listen to people when they are speaking?

A simple mindful listening exercise can lead to revelations about how people communicate with each other. Most people have good Listening Quoteintentions when they are attempting to listen to someone speaking to them. They want to listen. They want to understand what the other individual is trying to relate. However, thoughts in the mind get in the way. Instead of listening when being spoken to, the mind wanders off in infinite directions. These thoughts subsequently distract the listener from understanding the message being delivered. Here are a few examples of what can interfere with true listening:

  • Worrying about all the things that need to be accomplished today
  • Thinking about how to respond to the current conversation
  • Making judgements about what the other individual is saying
  • Being distracted by events occurring simultaneously in the environment around us
  • Jumping to conclusions before contemplating what is being said

What are the consequences of not effectively listening?

There are a multitude of consequences that result from not listening to others when they are speaking. Here are a few of the possible consequences that come to mind:

  • Lack of understanding of the other’s point of view.
  • Forgetting the name of a person after they have been introduced
  • Feeling anxious over how to respond to what is being said
  • Loss of the ability to be empathetic
  • Jumping to the wrong conclusion
  • Making wrong assumptions
  • Not being open to new possibilities, opinions, and alternatives
  • Causing the speaker to feel unheard and not understood
  • Loss of the ability to be present in the moment

What is mindful listening?Mindful Listening

Mindful listening is the ability to listen right here and right now. Right now I am being with this person and l am listening to them. It is the ability to focus on what is being communicated. It is the awareness that there is no other place to be at this moment in time.


The best way to understand mindful listening is to directly experience mindful listening. Here is an easy exercise you can do to experience mindful listening.

Mindful Listening Exercise

  1. Take 30 seconds to focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the air as it passes in during inspiration and as it passes out during expiration.
  2. Do this with a partner. Allow the partner to talk without interruption about whatever he or she wants to relate for about 5 minutes.
  3. When you are the listener, just simply listen.
  4. Do not comment on what is being said.
  5. Do not answer them.
  6. Do not get into a conversation.
  7. Indicate that you are paying attention through direct eye contact
  8. You can use other non-verbal cues such as nodding, smiling, etc.
  9. Notice your own impulse to speak.
  10. Notice if you mind wanders.
  11. After the speaker is finished, the listener can tell the speaker what they just heard in order to see if the communication was understood.
  12. If you did this exercise with a partner, now swap roles.

Here are some questions to reflect upon after completing the exercise.

  1. What was it like to just listen and focus all you awareness on the person speaking?
  2. Were you able to remember better what the speaker communicated with active mindful listening compared to what you usually do?
  3. If your mind wandered off to other internal thoughts while you were trying to listen, how easy was it to refocus your awareness back to listening to the speaker?
  4. Were you able to listen without judging what was being communicated?
  5. If you were the speaker, how did it feel to have someone’s undivided attention?

Listening most basic need

10 thoughts on “Mindful Listening Exercise

  1. So spot on! Great Article. I have done all of the above nearly, meaning at some stages in my life i was a terrible listener..:) I come from sales and marketing background, so talking was how i made a living. Only when i walked the road to Santiago (its a pilgrimage through North of Spain) i learned how to listen, and i really enjoy it now…:)

    1. It must have been a fantastic experience walking the road to Santiago. I would love to have had an experience like that. I find that when I am walking alone in nature it is a great time to listen to the birds, the leaves blowing in the wind, and the running of water down a stream. I am glad the article was of value to you. David

  2. Really interesting article. For some reason sometimes I am able to do exactly what you explained here without even thinking and some other times I am disturbed by my thoughts and I can’t focus on some conversations. I guess is might have to do if I enjoy the person or the subject. Do you think this might be a reason?


    1. Constantine,
      Certainly if you enjoy the subject and the person to whom you are talking to, it is easier to listen mindfully. But it takes practice to listen mindfully on a consistent basis. The best way that I have found to listen mindfully consistently is to take a moment early on in a conversation to remind myself that the purpose of listening is to be there for the other individual and that I can learn a lot from the other person. I try to learn one new thing about the other individual and about life during a conversation. I am glad you liked the article.

  3. I find I’m really bad at names and I also notice that I do get distracted easily don’t always give full attention to the speaker. I should try your “Mindful Listening Exercise” and see if that helps.
    Great article!

    1. Andy,
      It is a very easy exercise to do and you can learn a lot about yourself by doing the exercise with another individual. It only takes 10 minutes. I would suggest writing down what you learned about yourself in a journal after doing the exercise. Give it a try.

  4. When I listen mindfully, there is less I need to say and more to consider and reflect upon. Also, it feels good to know that I have been heard when someone really listens to me.

    1. Stephen,
      We often say much more than we should. Allowing others to speak and listening mindfully can give you insight into their lives and teach you a lot about yourself. Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know you are a great listener.

  5. Hi David,

    Great post and great ideas. I think we are all partial to not listening, rather wanting to get our points across. Like one of the other comment s I used to be really good at names but recently I find myself being forgetful, or rather not paying proper attention. I’m going to do the exercise now with my son. Thanks.

    1. Brendan,
      This would be a great bonding exercise for you and your son to do. Often we want our children to listen to what we have to say and do what we want. What I have learned is that it is extremely important to listen unconditionally to what our children tell us. Within their words are the pearls for creating stronger and more fulfilled relationships with our children. Thanks for leaving your comment and have a wonderful day!

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