The reflecting cluster includes the following skills:
An important aspect of listening is to help the listner clarify his or her communication so that they can get their meaning across. To practice reflective listening is to serve as a mirror for the person speaking.
One way that the speaker can do this is through paraphrasing. A paraphrase is a conscise response to the speaker that restates the essence of the communication in the listener's own words. The paraphrase deals with facts or ideas and not the emotions. In this respect it focuses the content of the speakers message.
Another aspect of reflecting is the mirroring back of the speaker's emotions as they make their statments. It is important to tune into the speaker's emotions. If we, as listeners, miss the feeling content we have missed a major part of the speaker's reaction and experience. Reflecting feelings also give the speaker an opportunity to evaluate how he or she is responding to a problem situation.
Not only should the listener reflect feeling, he or she also needs to reflect meaning. Content + feeling = meaning. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But, if you get the feelings wrong or the content wrong then you can't understand the speaker. Reflecting meaning alows you to be sure you are "getting" what the speaker is saying. Reflecting feeling and content are the baby steps to reflecting meaning. Meaning expression can use the basic empathic formula; you feel _______ because _________ , or some variation on this formla. After a while the formula will disaper and a natural empathic responding style will develop.
Finally, there is the concept of sumative reflections. This reflective response is designed to recap the major themes of the conversation and comes after an extended period of the conversation. During the course of the conversation bits of useless information can acrue. The sumation can serve to help the speaker to sort through the litter and to construct a more complete and compact conceptualization of the issue being discussed.
Introduction to Listening Skills