Reflective listening, also called active listening, is a type of verbal communication that involves the listener in the conversation restating or paraphrasing what the speaker said to ensure the listener has understood the meaning and feeling of the message. Reflective listening has numerous benefits that will improve your communication skills.
Having a feeling of validation is a benefit of reflective listening. When the listener reflects back what he or she heard and accurately represents what the speaker said, the speaker will feel a sense of validation or importance. Subsequently, creating the validation will also build a rapport and mutual respect between the speaker and listener.
Effective reflective listening is also beneficial when it helps correct misunderstandings, false assumptions and misinterpretations. If the listener misinterprets and incorrectly paraphrases the listener's message, it gives the speaker the opportunity to clarify his or her points. If you don't understand the speaker's message, you can always say you don't understand or take your best guess. If you are not correct, the speaker will correct the misunderstanding.
Benefit of Feeling
The listener also needs to listen not just to the words being said but also the feeling and emotion behind them. When this occurs, the listener will have the benefit of properly reflecting back what he or she heard the speaker say. For example, you can reflect the feeling or emotion back to the speaker by saying something, such as, "You seem really upset right now." This will convey not just understanding, but also empathy and acceptance and provide rapport and respect between the listener and the speaker. By acknowledging the speaker's feelings and emotions, the listener is also comforting the speaker, which will effectively create an emotional bond.
Continuing the Conversation
Reflective listening is also beneficial because it provides a way for the speaker to continue the conversation. If the listener accurately reflects back what the speaker says, or asks open ended questions, the speaker will be more apt to talk more and provide additional feedback on the topic. For example, if the speaker is talking about her son's experience in the classroom and the need for a special education class, the listener might ask, "Can you tell me more about his experience in the regular classroom?" This will allow the speaker to open up more about the child's experiences.