Merge's Blog

Paraphrasing leads to active listening

The skill of active listening is of great advantage in the workplace.  Sure, when you listen well it gives you access to information, data that you can use to make better decisions, but the benefits go beyond just this obvious advantage.  Active listening is also a huge motivator – when you listen to what your employees have to say, it affirms them and thus builds and nurtures great working relationships.  Which is why I often blog about what specific techniques leaders can use to become more active listeners.  Last May I wrote about asking questions as a way to improve listening.  Today and later this week, I have two more ideas.  Today’s technique – paraphrase.

Paraphrasing is when you repeat back, in your own words, what you heard the other person say.  So for example:

“If I heard you correctly, what you’re saying is …” or

“Let me summarize what I’ve heard you tell me so far …”

are both techniques to paraphrase, and each is followed by a short summary of well … what you heard.  This is a great way to teach yourself to listen more actively – not because there is anything magical about the technique itself – but because your mind knows that you’re going to paraphrase, it stays present and checked-in.  Because you give your mind something to do, it is much less likely to drift off, and the result … you are a better listener!

I have one more idea to share with you later this week, but until Thursday’s post comes up, I’d like to know about your personal experiences with paraphrasing.  Specifically, some people say that it sounds fake and “parroted”; I happen not to agree, but I’m curious to know your opinion.  Please add your comments below.

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