Can holding a stick improve listening at work? The effect of Listening Circles on employees’ emotions and cognitions

Guy Itzchakov, Avraham N. Kluger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Listening Circle is a method for improving listening in organizations. It involves people sitting in a circle where only one talks at a time. Talking turns are signalled by a talking object. Although there are several reports regarding the effectiveness of the Listening Circle, most are based on case studies, or confounded with another intervention, and do not use theory to predict the listening-induced outcomes. We predicted that perceiving good listening decreases employees’ social anxiety, which allows them to engage in deeper introspection, as reflected by increased self-awareness. This increased self-awareness enables an acknowledgement of the pros and cons of various work-related attitudes and can lead to attitudes that are objectively more ambivalent and less extreme. Further, we hypothesized that experiencing good listening will enable speakers to accept their contradictions without the evaluative conflict usually associated with it (subjective-attitude ambivalence). In three quasi-experiments (Ns = 31, 66 and 83), we compared the effects of a Listening Circle workshop to a self-enhancement workshop (Studies 1 and 2), to a conflict management workshop (Study 2) and to employees who did not receive any training (Study 3), and found consistent support for the hypotheses. Our results suggest that the Listening Circle is an effective intervention that can benefit organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-676
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Listening Circle
  • attitude ambivalence
  • attitude extremity
  • reflective self-awareness
  • social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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