Of all the active listening techniques, paraphrasing will be your main work horse. While other active listening techniques will stand out like a sore thumb if overused, you can use paraphrasing over and over in a conversation without sounding rediculous. In fact, used properly paraphrasing will show that you are a “great listener” and will help you quickly establish rapport with friends, family, and sales prospects.
In this article, I will show you how to save yourself after you’ve zoned out and missed what the other person was saying, what to do if you paraphrase inaccurately, and what kinds of errors to watch out for.
First of all, a quick definition- what is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is repeating the identical ideas expressed to you, but in your own words. If you can, it will help to write down the main points while listening. If that is not an option, you’re just going to need to stay alert! It’s a good idea to interrupt the other party gently if they’re going on at length to make sure you’re catching everything they’re saying. You won’t want to have to paraphrase 10 minutes of monolog.
Asleep At The Wheel?
If you ever find yourself unsure what the prospect said, you might show that you simply didn’t understand them or might give the impression you weren’t paying attention If you attempt to paraphrase without enough information. Under these circumstances, resort to parroting instead. In case you really were daydreaming about running barefoot on the beach, you most likely remember at least the tail end of what they were saying- just parrot that back to them. They’ll often feel compelled to explain further or repeat the points prior to that point- giving you a chance to get caught up without ever letting on that you had zoned out.
That’s Not What I Said…
Sometimes when you paraphrase, the other party will have to correct errors in your understanding. Be sure to thank them for helping you get it right. But wait. There’s more! Paraphrase again! Make sure that you truly got everything right. In most cases, they will not mind and will correct you again. I’ve been in calls with prospects where we went through this paraphrasing/corrective process a minimum of three or four times before everything was clear. This commonly happens when the subject matter discussed is highly technical or complex.
How To Listen For Paraphrasing Errors
In my experience, there are just three primary mistakes to listen for: errors of omission, addition, and intrepretation. If you’re being paraphrased, keep your ears pricked for these errors.
In omission, you forget to include an important point. In addition, you add something that the prospect never said. If you’ve ever played “telephone,” then you know how that can happen. Finally, in interpretation you don’t add or omit anything, but you put your own spin on what the person said. You ought to be careful about that, because it could annoy the other person.
As they say, knowledge is power. You now have two powerful techniques to save your bacon if you’ve been innatentive or incorrectly paraphrase someone. You also know what the three most common paraphrasing errors are- so, if you’re ever listening to someone paraphrasing you, you know what bear in mind to make sure nothing was misunderstood.