Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Active Listening in a Relationship

Project and Purpose

Students participate in active listening exercises and observations.

Essential Questions

How can someone enhance their relationship with active listening?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed their listening skills in the context of a romantic or intimate relationship. In class students discussed previous lessons regarding how to actively listen to another person and then how to apply active listening in the context of romantic or intimate relationships. In groups students practiced active listening as couples in a relationship.

*There is another CWK print lesson titled “Communication: Active Listener” that students will have completed before participating in this lesson. It is recommended to review “Communication: Active Listener” to provide context before having a discussion on “Active Listing in a Relationship.”

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Active and attentive listening is a skill that is valued, but often not taught well. Being able to listen attentively promotes respectful interaction and understanding within a romantic or intimate relationship.

Conversation notes:
It may be difficult for parents or adult mentors to discuss intimate relationships with adolescents, but listening attentively to an intimate partner is essential for building and maintaining trust, respect and understanding within relationships.

This article by Dianne Grande at Psychology Today provides helpful information about active listening:

An active listening exercise for couples from Greater Good Magazine:

Greater Good Podcast on active listening:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Describe the narratives your small group considered. Did you or anyone in your group have difficulty with the listening activity? Describe why active listening could be difficult in an intimate relationship.

How is an intimate (or romantic) relationship different from a relationship between close friends? Why would active listening be different in an intimate (or romantic) relationship compared to a relationship between close friends?

Describe your strengths and weaknesses (or challenges) as a listener? How would these strengths and weaknesses affect your relationship with an intimate (or romantic) partner? Why is it important to consider these issues at your age now?

School to Home Resources on Active Listening in a Relationship


  • Review any notes from previous Active Listener (2 of 4) session. This session is intended for use with students who have already participated previously in Active Listener 2.
  • RASA Active Listening Checklist (enough for all students)
  • One Minute timers (any analog or electronic one will work)
  • A/V equipment to access Ted Talk: Julian Treasure, “Five Ways to Listen Better”
  • Completed discussion organizers students completed in Active Listener 2


Review and restate session norms. These should remind students how to interact and communicate respectfully. Essential question should be prominently displayed.
[1-2 minutes]

Activity 1

  • Review the discussion from the previous Active Listener part 2 session. Remind students of the Listening the Alphabet game and encourage students to comment on the process and any thoughts they might have about how the game made them think about their listening skills.
  • You may wish to see if students also remember any of the five exercises that Julian Treasure suggested. Encourage discussion, especially if some students indicated that they have tried to improve their listening skills.

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 2

  • Have students watch the Ted Talk again. Now that students have tried the RASA process (in the previous session) see if students have a better understanding for the content in the Ted Talk.
  • Have students share out their thoughts or comments.

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 3

  • Introduce the activity by reminding students of how they used the RASA Active/ Conscious Listening Checklist in the previous session. Tell students that active listening is important in an intimate/marriage relationship as well; Julian Treasure mentioned his attempt at active listening with his wife during the Ted Talk as well. Using your knowledge of the students, split students in to small groups of 3 or 4. Ask students to think about everyday interactions that could occur between two people who are married, then ask students to tell a short (1 minute) narrative that might occur between a couple.
  • It is important to monitor students so that they choose class appropriate interactions, not sexual or other inappropriate content. With students who might not take the activity seriously, the facilitator may wish to come up with appropriate ideas ahead of time to assign to groups.
  • In the same manner as before, one student will tell the narrative to another student in the group. One student will tell a short narrative to another student, while the third student observes and completes RASA sheet. If there is a fourth this student can be the timer. Repeat until each student has had the opportunity to fill each role.
  • Possible narrative ideas for student narratives could include
    – An unusual idea for a date
    – Telling your partner about your day
    – An unusual place to move to and live with a future spouse
    – The things a couple should consider when purchasing a car together
    – Any (non-sexual) activity intimate partners might do together.

[15-25 minutes]


Debriefing questions.

  • “Why do you think some people might find it hard to listen, even to someone they care about?
  • “Do you think good listening helps build a stronger intimate relationship? How might this be?”
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