Active Listening

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Statement Purpose To do this Examples
ENCOURAGING To convey interest and encourage the other person
to keep talking
Don't agree or disagree;
Use neutral words;
Use varying voice intonations
"Can you tell me more..."
CLARIFYING To help you clarify what is said;
To get more information
Ask questions; 
Restate wrong interpretation to force speaker to explain further
Are you saying ...?
Would you say more about that.
What does that look like?
RESTATING To show you are listening & understanding what
is being said;
To check your meaning & interpretation
Restate basic ideas, facts "I thought I heard you say..."
"So you would like to know more about reading strategies.  Is that right?"
"We may need to check this out further..."
To show that you understand how the other person feels Reflect the speaker's basic feelings You seem quite passionate about this idea."
SUMMARIZING To review progress;
To pull important ideas, facts, & feelings together;
To establish as basis for further discussion
Restate major ideas expressed including feelings "These seem to be the key ideas you have expressed..."
What I hear you saying is ...
Is it about ...?
Let me make sure I understand you ...
VALIDATING To acknowledge the worthiness of the other person Acknowledge the value of their issues & feelings;
Show appreciation for their efforts & actions
"We appreciation your willingness to delve into this difficult issue."
"I think I understand why you'd be confused."
BUILDING To help build & continue the discussion;
To offer other opinions
Ask questions;
Offer ideas or suggestions
"Have you considered..."
To convey the speaker's nonverbal message
To clarify the message of the nonverbal message
Verbalize the speaker's body language &/or facial expression "I've just been noticing that when you talk about your  conclusions, you smile.  That makes me think you're comfortable with the direction."

Source: Bert Decker, The Art of Communicating, Crisp Publications, 1988.

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Copyright 1998-2006 Louise Wright Robertson

Site last modified & updated February 09, 2013