effective communication skills

Paraphrasing

How to Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is an effective form of verbal feedback to use when listening, however it is not simply repetition or “parroting,” but restating another person’s statement in your own words to gain understanding.

Use your own words to tell what you think the speaker meant, not what they said.

Why paraphrase

Paraphrasing enables the listener to clarify the speaker’s meaning and it conveys interest in what the speaker is saying and helps create a supportive environment for the conversation.

Paraphrasing examples

Speaker: "I'm having a hard time communicating with Bill and I don't know what's going on."
Paraphrase: "It sounds like you're frustrated that you and Bill aren't getting along."
Speaker: "Yes... and I think he's avoiding me on purpose."

In this example, the paraphrase allows us to find out that the speaker is concerned that Bill is avoiding him. While this is not what he said initially, the paraphrase revealed what his real meaning was.

Alternately, the speaker could have responded by saying: "Yes, I'm concerned and not at all sure what to do about it." This would also have revealed more about the message that the speaker was trying to communicate.

Here's another example:

Speaker: "I'm not feeling well today."
Paraphrase: "Sounds like you're coming down with something."
Speaker: "No... I'm just nervous about having to make a presentation at today's meeting."


In this case, the listener took the wrong meaning for what the speaker said, but when they checked their understanding by paraphrasing, the speaker corrected their understanding.

Remember... use paraphrasing to check your understanding.

You can learn how to paraphrase when you use Communication University.

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