Book By: Libove, Laurie Ribble
Review By: Terri Blevins
Academic Counselor
College of Arts & Sciences

Listening is critical to the advising process; indeed, it is critical to all communication. However, as Laurie Ribble Libove says in this facilitator guide, “listening tends to take a backseat to flashier aspects of communication like presentation skills” (p.2.). Communication breaks down because the listener does not understand the speaker’s message. While many resources discuss the communication process, few focus specifically on identifying problems and improving listening skills. This workbook does and included both a self-evaluation instrument and a facilitator’s guide.  

The facilitator’s guide contains an overview and a theoretical perspective on communication skills and highlighted listening in particular. The guide contains information about listening on thee different dimensions (staying focused, capturing the message, and helping the speaker), and suggests ways participants can improve listening skills on each. The guide ends with a sample training agenda and provides overheads that would be useful in a training session. The guide is easy to read and understand; any trainer could read the guide and put it into practice fairly quickly. The information, while not new, is well-organized and useful.

The self-evaluation instrument contains 30 statements for response and self-scoring along with interpretations on the three dimensions of listening. It took about 10 minutes to complete the self-evaluation, and the scoring was an easy process. When scoring is complete, participants can identify personal strengths and weaknesses in listening and see where they stand on each dimension. Using Participants develop a personal plan of action to address areas in need of improvement using questions at the end of the workbook. The questions encourage even those who score high to think of a time a time when communication failed and to think about which dimension provides them with the most challenges.  Several in my office took the evaluation and the results generated nice discussion of communication skills.

The Learning to Listen workbook could be used separately or as a smaller part of overall training for advisors or staff.  It would be easy to use either in a group workshop setting or individually.  The information would be extremely useful to almost anyone.

Learning to Listen. (1996).  Book by Libove, Laurie Ribble. Review by Terri Blevins. King of Prussia, PA: Organizational Design and Development, Inc. $81.00 for preview pack #1-58854-008-1.

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