Listening Exchange: The Value of Equal Turns & Confidentiality

This video and set of guidelines will give you and your students a chance to practice active listening and discuss the importance of taking equal turns and keeping the content of listening exchanges confidential.  

Being listened to helps human beings in profound ways. When we absorb someone else’s relaxed attention, we can process and regulate our emotions, think our way through challenges, and engage in areas where we are inclined to disengage. "Equal listening exchanges" are a tool and a process that will support students to take risks as learners, build community, and nurture everyone's ability to handle challenging emotions when they arise.

Active listening is a skill that takes practice. Specific protocols will help students learn to use it well. Sustained practice in various settings will teach students how to move forward when they are confronted with academic, social, and emotional challenges. 

The listening exchange below can be used on its own or along with Games to Nourish Community. For more on how to combine the two, check out Mini Lessons to Nourish Community.  

See the first in this series of videos on listening exchanges, Listening Exchange: Good and Poor Listening.


Lesson 2: The Value of Equal Turns & Confidentiality


  • Try to use a bit more time than you did for lesson 1 - maybe 2.5 minutes per person. 
  • Decide who will be the speaker and who will be the listener.
  • Remind students that the listener shows interest and care, paying undivided attention to the speaker for the allotted time.
  • Even if the speaker seems to run out of things to say, keep paying attention! Holding the space for one another allows our brains to keep thinking and new thoughts may arise. 
  • When the time is up, the person speaking finishes their sentence and switches their attention to the next person. It may be helpful for the teacher to keep time and send notes through break-out rooms if this is happening virtually.
  • Remember, listening exchanges are confidential.  Don't share what the person has shared with you. 
  • Also, don't give advice! Give your full attention. Sometimes being listened to and heard is what a person needs in order to work through something on their own.