reflective listening for improved communication

If  one wishes to be a good observer of facts ,one withholds judgments,  interferes as little as possible with data, and summarizes what he observes. One must do the same when he or she is listening to what others are saying. One can do this with “Reflective Listening“.

the purpose of  “Reflective  Listening” is to :

  • listen  fully, clarify understand what another person saying.
  • build trust and  a repore with other people.
  • Improve communication
  • Increase  personal  empathy and relatedness

Active Reflective listening:

  1. Use Good Listening Skills.
  2. Withhold judgment while listening
  3. Listen Closely To What is being said, and How something is said.
  4. Pay attention to nonverbal cues: gestures, voice inflections.
  5. Respond to What you hear, and Nothing else.
    • Reflect and Listen
    • Affirm Feeling and Values when express
    • Explore and Encourage a speaker to share
    • Avoid listening “Road blocks “
  6. Summarize
  7. Continue to listen.

Reflecting and Listening

Reflecting tells the person who you are listening to that you understand them, and allows you to passively challenge statements for clarity.

  • I hear you saying………..
  • Sounds like……………….
  • You believe………………….
  • you are confident that….
  • Could it be that……
  • You think that…….
  • Correct me if I, Wrong , but i hear……….
  • From your perspective…………
  • I’m picking up………..
  • The part I understand is…..
  • It Seems as though…………
  • By that you mean…..

Statements, that start like this are known as “Tentafiers” and they avoid introducing any opinion, advice, or talk of your experience. Remember: this is about  better listening  and listening objectively.

Speaker: Its my brother. He borrowed th car again without asking.  He never shows up on time.  Never helps me when I ask for his help. and now he is asking to borrow money again.

Listener: “It sounds to me, that you believe your brother is taking advantage of you”..

Affirming Feeling and Values

Sometimes people talk to get things “off their chest”, or the just need someone to talk to. They may not notice how they are feeling as they talk. Pointing out feelings and values when you here them, challenges the speaker to experience them, more directly as they communicate.
It also tells the speaker “Hey! I know how you Feel” and “I want to know how you are feeling”.

  • You are Feeling……..
  • You Feel……..
  • I hear you saying that,   part of you feels….. and part of you feels….
  • It Sounds  like you really value……

Its  helpful to have  Strong “Emotional Grammar” and Empathy in answering these Tentafiers.
The good news is mastering  Listening helps to improve ones Emotional Grammar and Empathy.
Some Feeling Words:
You are Feeling…….

Angry ,  Unsure ,  Excited ,  Apprehensive ,  Joyful ,  Happy
Suspicious ,  Sad ,  Curious ,  Helpless ,  Cheated ,  Confident ,
Overloaded ,  Stressed, abandoned , Conflicted  , In-love ,  disrespected …

(A   downloadable list of Feeling words can be found  {click Here})

Speaker:“I just got a raise at work and my vacation plans were approved!  I made record time on my drive home! I’m on a roll!

listener: “you’re feeling ecstatic!”

Explore and Encourage.

One doesn’t want to intrude on a speaker when he/she is active – reflectively listening, but we may want to encourage the speaker to clarify what they or saying or talk more specifically about a subject.

I am Wondering….

  • ….what that means to you.
  • ….How you’re feelings about…..

Questions that encourage clarification and specification, that don’t lead the speakers to conclusions , are called “Opened ended  questions“.

  • Can you Tell me more about…?
  • What does that mean to you?
  • What would you like to see happen?
  • What are some of your Options?
  • Could you give me some examples?
  • How did you come to this conclusion?
  • What worked before?
  • Have you felt this way before?
  • Which concern seems most important right now?

It is Recommended that “Open ended Questions” are be used sparingly after reflecting and listening for a while.

Listening “Road Blocks”

Road blocks are statements one tries to avoid as they are nonconstructive to listening.One  don’t wish to interject our opinions, experiences, and advice  while listening.
I will cover road-blocks in the next post.


* ” I’d like to take a moment to summarize so i am clear about…

  • your concerns…”
  • what your feeling…..”
  • what you’ve told me….”

* ” Lets recap the Ground we covered.”

Summarizing is a good way to  express that you’ve been attentive in listening and that you clearly understand the major points the speaker expressed.

In Conclusion

Active Reflective Listening was developed  from the work of Carl Rogers Client Centered Therapy. Reflective Listening is  used professionally by  Law enforcement, EMT, who need to listen to people for facts quickly, business people with clients, etc. It can be use personally to improve oneself and relatedness to friends and family.
After all, most people like “Good Listeners”.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

7 Responses to reflective listening for improved communication

  1. Joss says:

    excellent overview. Being a good listener is a skill that can be developed and this is a great tool towards that end.
    walk in beauty.

  2. Pingback: Avoiding Roadblocks in Listening « Pennsylvania Echoes

  3. crayzys says:

    Hi Chris. Did a link to this post in LinkedIn, the business network group. I too consider reflective listening critical to all communication. Thank you for the conciseness of your tips.

  4. chris says:

    Thanks you Crayzys,
    Reflective listening is useful to all communication and an excellent tool for business,
    I hope more people find it useful.

  5. Pingback: Training to Be A Life Coach: A moment that a life coach lives for!

  6. Pingback: How to practice reflective listening? | happygreenpanda

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: