Think and Listen

By Ashraf Al Shafaki


  1. Explain the think and listen technique fully to participants. Speak about its benefits.
  2. Ask participants to start counting themselves. Each participant memorizes his/her number.
  3. Every two adjacent participants look to each other slightly shifting the angle of their chairs towards each other and turning their heads slightly towards one another.
  4. Provide participants with a single topic of discussion, a subject for brainstorming or a question to answer.
  5. Participants who have odd numbers start speaking about the topic you have specified while those with even numbers start listening attentively.
  6. After 2 minutes have passed, signal the "switching" of roles.
  7. Now participants with even numbers start speaking while those with odd numbers start listening to their partners attentively.
  8. After 2 minutes pass signal the end of the think and listen session.

The think and listen session is often followed by a go round session.


  • Participants feel energized because they are having an active role during the workshop and are not just being passive listeners to what the trainer has to say.
  • Participants fulfill their need for someone to listen to their thoughts and words attentively and absorb what they have got to say.
  • Participants get a clearer vision of their ideas upon speaking them allowed. Their ideas become more focused.
  • Participants take a much shorter time to express their focused ideas during a go round session that follows a think and listen session.
  • Participants practice active listening skills.
  • Partners in the think and listen exercise get familiar with one another building a stronger bond.


  • The "listening" participant is not allowed to provide his opinion or give any comments during the listening phase. He must only listen attentively and use facial expressions to show that he is being attentively and encourage the speaker to go on with his speaking.
  • If the speaker stops having anything to say before the 2 minutes are over, it is totally OK. He can just remain silent. He can pause for as long as he desires without speaking in the middle of the 2 minutes.
  • When the even numbered participants start speaking they should express their own ideas and not comment on the ideas of their partners that they had just been listening to.
  • Each participant is not allowed to mention his partner's ideas to the rest of the participant except if that participant explicitly tells him that it is OK to mention them.