Listening Skills: understanding or replying? Which is better?
Many of us were taught the importance of paraphrasing. You know, put someone’s words into your words and repeat it back to them. The problem with this technique is that we end up doing what I call PARROTphrasing. We squawk someone’s words back to them without digging underneath what they really might be saying.
Many of us use words that do not match our meaning. For example, you ask someone, “How is your day?” They respond with, “Fine.” Is that what they really mean? Maybe they mean I don’t think you really care, so I won’t be honest. Or perhaps they think It’s not really any of your business. Sometimes it means I’m too busy to chat right now.
In any case, we can improve communication by uncovering the MEANING underneath a person’s words using what I call True Paraphrasing. Here are the steps (see graphic to the right):
For the future, keep your ears open for phrases like these … they are signs that you have missed the meaning and are responding words.
“That isn’t what I said.”
“That isn’t what I meant.”
“You’re not hearing me.”
“Maybe I’m not explaining myself well.”
“That isn’t what I want/asked for/need.”
“Let me repeat myself.”
Once you learn how to listen to understand, you will see quite an improvement in your communication!