Reflective Listening Skills
Reflective listening or responding is the process of restating, in our words, the feeling and/or content that is being expressed and is part of the verbal component of sending and receiving messages. By reflecting back to the speaker what we believe we understand, we validate that person by giving them the experience of being heard and acknowledged. We also provide an opportunity for the speaker to give us feedback about the accuracy of our perceptions, thereby increasing the effectiveness of our overall communication.
Paraphrasing – This is a concise statement of the content of the speaker’s message. A paraphrase should be brief, succinct, and focus on the facts or ideas of the message rather than the feeling. The paraphrase should be in the listener’s own words rather than “parroting back”, using the speaker’s words.
“You believe that Jane needs an instructional assistant because she isn’t capable of working independently.”
“You would like Bob to remain in first grade because you think the activities would be more developmentally appropriate.”
“You do not want Beth to receive special education services because you think it would be humiliating for her to leave the classroom at any time.”
“You want to evaluate my child because you think he may have an emotional disability.
Reflecting Feeling – The listener concentrates on the feeling words and asks herself, “How would I be feeling if I was having that experience?” She then restates or paraphrases the feeling of what she has heard in a manner that conveys understanding.
“You are very worried about the impact that an evaluation might have on Lisa’s self esteem”.
“You are frustrated because dealing with Ben has taken up so much of your time, you feel like you’ve ignored your other students.”
“You feel extremely angry about the lack of communication you have had in regards to Joe’s failing grades.”
“You’re upset because you haven’t been able to get in touch with me when I’m at work.”
Summarizing – The listener pulls together the main ideas and feelings of the speaker to show understanding. This skill is used after a considerable amount of information sharing has gone on and shows that the listener grasps the total meaning of the message. It also helps the speaker gain an integrated picture of what she has been saying.
“You’re frustrated and angry that the assessment has taken so long and confused about why the referral wasn’t made earlier since that is what you thought had happened. You are also willing to consider additional evaluation if you can choose the provider and the school district will pay for it”.
“You’re worried that my son won’t make adequate progress in reading if he doesn’t receive special services. And you feel that he needs to be getting those services in the resource room for at least 30 minutes each day because the reading groups in the classroom are bigger and wouldn’t provide the type of instruction you think he needs.”