Identify the role of active listening in teamwork


As the facilitator, you want to be sure that camp participants are working collaboratively. Active listening skills are crucial for encouraging contribution, establishing trust, and building more meaningful relationships in technology teams.

Examine the effects of poor communication

Have you ever tried to share a thought or opinion with a group and felt that you weren't given the time or space you needed to explain your ideas fully? Or perhaps you were misunderstood and then not given an opportunity to explain yourself. As the video mentioned, interactions where you don't feel taken seriously, or where the other person doesn't seem to care about what you're saying, can leave you feeling hurt and minimized. Situations like this can affect trust between people in teams, damage relationships, and get in the way of you producing your best work.

Line drawing of a person at the top of a hill says to another person at the bottom, who's carrying a large backpack. It's just a bag. The person with the backpack is unhappy.

Explore the importance of active listening in teams

In collaborative groups, active listening is crucial. Communication is woven into every phase of a project—from the initial planning stage to the setting and achieving of project goals. Strong communication skills help you deliver clear expectations and objectives, and provide feedback when things aren't going well.


Active listening is:

  • Slowing down and listening with your full attention and presence.
  • Asking clarifying questions and mirroring (repeating back what you think the speaker has said) to be sure you understand the speaker, and to make them feel heard.
  • Trying on the other person's perspective to gain a deeper sense of where they're coming from, even when you disagree with what they're saying.

Lack of communication can cause dissatisfaction and disengagement. It can cause team members to not contribute fully or at all. Some team members might even leave the project.

When team members actively listen to one another, they better understand each other's perspectives. Active listening builds trust and strengthens relationships within the team. The result is team members who are more likely to engage and be more productive.

Good communication within a team also helps to prevent problems, or creatively solve them. Remember from the video: when you offer to share your teammates' burdens, you gain a stronger team that gets closer to its goals. Your team members are more likely to feel valued and be inclined to contribute.

Line drawing of a person with a backpack is describing to another person an idea that they could share carrying the backpack up the hill. They both are happy about this.

Incorporate effective communication in teams

At the coding camp, you've organized your class into small groups. Each group needs to sketch out a proposed solution to a problem and present it to the class. Within the group, they need to communicate effectively so they can:

  • Decide what role each person will take, such as who will take notes, who will draw diagrams or write code samples, and who will present.
  • Decide on their approach and agree on details.
  • Solve conflicts by actively listening to others with differing opinions so they can understand their perspectives.
  • Encourage participation so group members feel included and that their perspectives are valued.

Create a space where active listening is possible

You can try using various approaches to create a space for constructive communication in your teams. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Set ground rules before you begin, such as agreeing to not talk over or interrupt others.
  • Agree to share the air. Mindfully step up or step back to allow others to voice their opinions to ensure everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
  • Be patient and understanding with others, and assume they have positive intent.
  • Use active listening.
  • Practice awareness, but catch yourself if you're forming a mental response while the other person is still speaking.
  • Ask for feedback: "I'm practicing active listening. My intention is for you to feel heard. Can you let me know if I'm interrupting or talking over you, or any other unintentional cue signaling that I might not be actively listening?"
  • Be aware of the nonverbal messages you're sending and ensure they match your intent.


Nonverbal messages include nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. Nonverbal messages supply important cues about intent, mood, and empathy with the other person. They can enhance or negate the words and language of the spoken message. For example, rolling your eyes or sighing heavily while someone is sharing might send a message that you disagree or are dismissive of what they're saying.


Later units describe some of these approaches in more detail.

Use active listening in teams to create a space to contribute

Collaborating in a team often creates tension or disagreements, and that's okay. Collaboration isn't about avoiding conflict. In these situations, ask yourself if you're listening with purpose. Are you creating space to listen and try on other perspectives?

Actively listening to understand one another in a team, even when there's conflict, builds trust and a sense of belonging and creates a space for everyone to contribute. Increasing engagement and contributions from team members can ultimately increase a team's effectiveness.