Life and Spiritual Coaching

October 23, 2008


Filed under: Communications,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 5:46 pm

An important part of using others as creative problem solving resources is, of course, making sure you understand their ideas and suggestions. One technique used to do this is “paraphrasing”. This is the act of summarizing someone’s thoughts using different words. It is important to check your understanding, even when you think you understand. It is a natural tendency to not check our understanding when we do think we comprehend. However, because our understanding is based on not just what was said, but also our interpretation of what was said, the understanding could be way off the mark. In order to avoid this misunderstanding, when you paraphrase a thought, be sure to check it with the person doing the communicating. A paraphrase is not complete until the person offering the suggestion agrees.


When paraphrasing, it is important to not only understand what the person said but what they meant! Even if you think you hear the words correctly, your understanding of the intended meaning can still be off the mark. It is important that you check your understanding, especially in these situations:


·    Prior to developing someone’s thoughts or to make a final decision to accept or reject them.

·    Prior to agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s view or information about a problem.

·    Prior to judging or evaluating someone’s work or actions.


Paraphrasing is not only useful in confirming that you have understood what was being said, but it is also the only way the other person can be sure you were actually listening. In addition, a useful, though not foolproof way to use paraphrasing is to try to manage someone who is rambling or repeating. If, as a facilitator, you can step in and paraphrase what their thoughts are, you can more effectively capture their idea and then move to the next person.


Here are six steps to effective paraphrasing:


1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.


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