RE: Parroting? Not!

Subject: RE: Parroting? Not!
From: "Farwell, Peter" <peter -dot- farwell -at- encorp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 13:52:43 -0700

This was reinforced last night at the first session of a class on "Systems
Analysis". The instructor, a former systems analyst for Qwest, asked what we
thought were the most important qualities of a systems analyst. Lots of
answers such and "good communicator" and "analytical mind" were thrown into
the mix. I finally added, "You might want to ask them what they actually do
and then listen carefully to the response." He paused for effect and smiled.
Guess who's the new teacher's pet?

Active listening is the term I learned for paraphrasing back to a person my
perception of what they said. It has value in helping you understand complex
problems as well as creating trust and rapport. It has also kept me happily
married. :-)

Peter Farwell

> Several folks have mentioned the value of "parroting", but
> I'll step in as
> word geek and point out that this isn't the word we're
> looking for. Parrots
> blindly repeat words with little or no evidence that they
> have any idea what
> they're saying. That's hardly a way to gain the respect of an
> SME; parrot
> back their words and they'll eventually start feeding you
> crackers rather
> than useful information.
>
> What actually works is _paraphrasing_. This tells the speaker
> that you've
> listened to them, tried to understand their words, and want
> them to confirm
> that you've actually understood those words. Making that
> effort provides the
> human connection and works the magic: you're treating the
> speaker as someone
> whose opinions matter, and doing them that honor breaks down
> all kinds of
> barriers. On the job and off.
>
> --Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
>

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