In Your Own Words

8 Apr

This is the last post in my series on listening. And listening sure is essential to paraphrasing – today’s topic.

Paraphrasing means to use your own words to say what you think someone said to you. It’s important not to be a ‘parrot’ and just repeat what someone has said. That doesn’t show that you understand the content of their message.

People TalkingWhy is it important to summarize and rephrase what you have heard? Well, the reason is why I used the graphic for this blog – two minds thinking different things. Paraphrasing helps to minimize miscommunication and misunderstanding. Now that’s a mouthful.

Here’s an example.

If someone at work says to you “I’m tired of having to work overtime when Paula doesn’t finish her projects on time.” If you aren’t paraphrasing, you might be tempted to answer with “Well, then you should tell your boss.” This may come off as judgemental and unsupportive and has the potential of shutting down conversation.

Instead you might consider something like “It sounds like you’re getting frustrated at having to do extra work to make up for what Paula isn’t doing.”   This approach helps the other person to see that you are listening and offers a chance to provide clarification, if needed.

To continue our example, the other person might say “I guess I am frustrated but on the other hand, the overtime pay is nice right before my vacation.” Hmm – you probably didn’t expect that answer.

Paraphrasing offers the ‘space’ in a conversation for more information to be exchanged or validated.

Here are some helpful ‘starters’ to paraphrase:

  • It sounds like ….
  • Let me see if I understand ….
  • What I hear you saying is ….
  • Am I right in thinking that ….

I often use paraphrasing in mediation, because it helps me to ensure that I am understanding what parties are saying. Sometimes,  I even ask parties to paraphrase what the other person is saying – especially when I think that miscommunication may be an issue for them.






Print Friendly

3 Responses to “In Your Own Words”

  1. Curprice J. Luckert April 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Thank you for this wonderful post! The info is useful with both children and adults! Misunderstandings seem to play a huge role in arguments – what a great way to avoid them!

    • The Olive Branch Blog April 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

      How nice to hear from you, Curprice. Good communication takes work – but it’s so worth it for any relationship!

  2. louis vuitton artsy mm May 6, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    There is evidently a bunch to realize about this. I feel you made various nice points in features also.

Leave a Reply