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The Art of Paraphrasing Date Posted: 1/14/2005



Paraphrasing is a necessary backup system to communication.  It means to put the other person’s MEANING into your WORDS and give it back.  It does 14 important things:


1.      You can interrupt someone and not generate resistance.

2.      You can take control of the encounter.

3.      You “get it right” on the spot.  We don’t always hear well.

4.      The other can correct you if you have made an error.  Makes the other feel good and is good for you.  (fix the ph# in the commercial)

5.      It makes the other a better listener.  No one will listen harder than to his own point of view.

6.      It creates empathy.  The other will believe you are trying to understand.

7.      It often makes the other modify his/her initial statements (become more reasonable) because he or she gets to hear his/her meaning in different words and tones.

8.      It overcomes sonic intention.  People often think they have said something to you because they have “heard” themselves say it in their mind.  When you paraphrase, they hear what you have heard, not what they think they have said.

9.      It can clarify for those who may be standing nearby.

10.    It prevents metaphrase: the use of the “skewed phrase.”  The good paraphraser will never “put words into the other’s mouth.”

11.    Whenever you give directions to others, insist they paraphrase back to you.  8 out of 10 people misunderstand the point of a verbal exchange.  Protects you as a manager/supervisor.

12.    Whenever you take direction, it ensures you heard and interpreted correctly the other’s meaning.  Paraphrase it back to them.  The other may not have even said what he/she intended.  Covers you from making errors.  Makes you efficient and effective.

13.    It reinforces your own memory.  The mind remembers what the mind does.  Your reports, written or oral will be more concise and accurate.

14.  It generates the “fair play” response.  You have listened and made an effort to understand the other.  The other is almost forced (psychologically) to do the same for you. 

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