Leaders can help themselves and their staffs by practicing the art of active listening. Here are some verbal skills to help.

  • Encouraging conveys interest, leading the reporter to keep talking. Don’t agree or disagree, but use noncommittal words with a positive tone of voice: "I see," "Uh-huh," "That’s interesting," "Hmmm ..."
  • Restating shows that you're listening and lets the reporter know you grasp the ideas and facts. Paraphrase the reporter's basic ideas, emphasizing the facts. "What I hear you saying is ..." "In other words, you plan to ..."
  • Reflecting shows that you're listening, lets the reporter know you understand his feelings and develops his thinking. Restate the reporter's basic feelings: "You feel that ..." "I guess you were pretty frustrated ..."
  • Summarizing allows you to pull important ideas, facts and feelings together. It establishes a basis for further discussion, allows you to review progress and establishes agreement on a plan of action. Restate, reflect and summarize major ideas and feelings: "The key ideas you’ve expressed are ..." "As I understand you, you want to ..."

Taken from The Language of Coaching, a self-directed course by Poynter's Roy Peter Clark at Poynter NewsU.

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