Reflective listening is a communication skill by which students can increase their understanding of other people’s ideas, issues, approaches and concerns within the group. It's a particularly useful skill for avoiding conflict within a group. Buffington et al. (2016, p. 46) write, "When employing reflective listening, the question is not 'What can I do for this [person],' but rather, 'How does this person see him or herself?'"
The two main techniques for practising reflective listening are mirroring and paraphrasing. Mirroring involves repeating key phrases back to the speaker ("I'm really upset that I missed my bus this morning." "You missed your bus.") Paraphrasing involves repeating a rephrased version of what they've said ("I'm really upset I missed my bus this morning." "You were upset about being late.")
The following handout may help students practise reflective listening skills during group work.
What is reflective listening?
Reflective listening appears deceptively easy, but it takes practice and skill to do well. In reflective listening, the listener tries to clarify and restate what the other person is saying.
The benefits of reflective listening are that it can:
What does reflective listening involve?
When practising reflective listening, you should:
How do I know when I’m using reflective listening effectively?
To identify ways in which you could improve your reflective listening, ask yourself, did you:
Stein, R. F., & Hurd, S. N. (Eds) (2000), Using Student Teams in the Classroom: A Faculty Guide. Anker Publishing Company (pp. 57-58) and Fisher, D. (n.d.), Communication in Organizations, St. Paul, MN: Jaico.
- How To Practice Reflective Listening (With Tips and Examples)
- Reflective Listening Helps Build Rapport
Arnold, A. (2014). Behind the mirror: Reflective listening and its tain in the work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist, 42, 354-369.
Buffington, A., Wenner, P., Brandenburg, D., Berge, J., Sherman, M., & Danner, C. (2016). The art of listening. Minnesota Medicine, 99(6), 46-48.
Fisher, D. (n.d.). Communication in Organizations, St. Paul, MN: Jaico.
Stein, R. F., & Hurd, S. N. (Eds) (2000). Using Student Teams in the Classroom: A Faculty Guide. Anker Publishing Company.