There are many active listening techniques, but paraphrasing is the most important one for you to learn. You can use it over and over in a conversation without sounding like an idiot. In fact, used properly paraphrasing will show that you are a “great listener” and can 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 helps to write down the main points while listening. If that is not an option, you’re just going to have 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 monologue.
Should you find yourself lost in the conversation, you might give the impression that you did not understand them or might give the impression you weren’t listening If you attempt to paraphrase lacking the necessary information. In that situation, try parroting instead. Even if you truly weren’t paying attention, you probably remember the last part of what they were saying- just repeat 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. When this happens, thank them for clarifying the points. However, you’re not done. Paraphrase again using free online paraphrasing tool.! You want to be sure you have it right. In most cases, they will not mind and will correct you again. I’ve conversations where we went through this paraphrasing/correcting cycle at least three times before we were completely on the same page. 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 interpretation. In case you are being paraphrased, keep your ears pricked for these errors.
In omission, you forget to include an important point. In addition, you include information the other party never uttered. It’s just like the game “telephone” where the last person to get the message almost always has a hilarious deviation from the original. Lastly, with Interpretation, you don’t necessarily add or remove anything from the message, but you put your own spin on it. This could happen with the way you repeat it, where you choose to place emphasis- inadvertently (or not?) changing the meaning etc. You need 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 inattentive 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 to look for to make sure nothing was misunderstood.