Reflective listening is often a difficult skill to master. As with everything – practice makes perfect!
The key points to remember for successful reflective listening is that our goal is to fully understand the person’s feelings and ideas. We can do that by paying close attention to what people are saying to us (with their words) but by also focusing on the rest of that communication – what does their body language tell us? How does their voice sound as they are speaking to us? We may have to ask some clarifying questions to make sure that our perception is correct.
Other things to keep in mind – be open to the person’s perspective (even if you don’t agree with their perspective). Be non-judgemental and empathetic.
Mirror the mood and emotions of the speaker. You will definitely need to minimize all other distractions (including internal noise) so that you can be fully present and involved in the current communication.
Summarize what the speaker has said, without just regurgitating back to them exactly what they’ve said. It helps to show that we have a deeper understanding of how the person feels. We may also use this to help people to better identify their feelings. People sometimes have a difficult time putting their finger on what emotion they are actually feeling.
In The Mandt System we say that it helps people to “name their pain.” If people know what they are feeling and can start to understand that often our behavior has a direct correlation to our emotions it puts people in a position to affirm how they feel so they can make decisions about how to use their behavior in different ways.
By engaging in thoughtful and purposeful reflective listening you can make better and deeper connections with the people you serve. All of this may lead to healthier relationships – our number one goal!
Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty Supervisor