There are many variations of active listening available on the internet. Over the next few days I am going to take you through the eight strategies used successfully world-wide by those involved in crisis negotiations.
A summary is a long paraphrase and is used towards the end of a communication. Once you believe the conversation is close to a conclusion, go over the facts of the conversation in your own words. Ensure that you cover the important words so the message remains the same as told to you and do so without any of the emotions the other person would have spoken of.
What you are doing is putting their story into your words. This continues to assist with the rapport building process and confirms that you have the facts accurate. Ask for clarification if you have parts incorrect.
It is often a great idea to add an emotion at the end of your summary such as “...and because of this you feel frustrated/annoyed/angered/confused.” Again don't worry if you don't quite have the right emotion label.
A summary is also helpful to end a call for those people who just won't go away. The summary indicates that you are coming to the end of the communication and it is time to move on.
So, there are the eight strategies of active listening skills. They are used in varying forms with various names across industries such as sales, marketing, PR, and interviewing. Try focussing on open questions and minimal encourages first until this becomes natural for you then introduce paraphrasing and reflecting. Keep I-messages and emotion labelling for particularly difficult communications.
Tomorrow I will look at empathy and rapport, both necessary in controlling difficult conversations.