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Peer support exercise

An opportunity to practice your listening skills in this exercise.
© University of Reading

Now that you know what’s required of a good listener, this peer coaching exercise will allow you to practice your listening skills, and empower others to try and work out solutions themselves. This can be used with adults and children.

Peer coaching involves one person (the listener), who listens to another person (the speaker), who is presenting a problem. The listener will ask questions by writing their questions down. The speaker then chooses the questions they want to answer, thereby solving their own issues. Once the speaker starts discussing their problem. Allow them to speak for 5-10 minutes.

If you are the listener, you must NOT:

  • Speak
  • Offer anecdotes
  • Offer advice
  • Fill the silence

To do this exercise, you will need to:

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
  • Have post it notes and pen or pencils
  • Sit opposite each other, or in circle if there is more than one listener
  • Have a clock to time the exercise

If you are a listener, make sure you give good eye contact, nods, maybe smiles, but please do not speak. Everyone that is listening should write their questions down as they think of something appropriate and thought-provoking.

When the speaker starts to slow down, put the questions in front of the speaker, for them to read and answer the ones they want. There are often moments when the speaker will say ‘I have just solved that!’ The process will not work if the listeners speak. You simply need to listen and ask thought provoking questions.

An additional resource containing examples of helpful questions can be found at the bottom of this Step and may be used as a starting point for those in the listening role.

© University of Reading
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