CONTACT Module 5 - Affirm and clarify - use reflective listening


Hi everybody. This video is about step 5 in CONTACT. A in CONTACT stands for Affirm and clarify what you heard, to be sure you got it right. Use reflective listening to make sure you truly understand before you seek to be understood and to find common ground.

What is reflective listening? states it’s a communication strategy involving two key steps: 1, seeking to understand a speaker's idea, then 2, offering the idea back to the speaker, to confirm the idea has been understood correctly.

In effective communications, we want to avoid the temptation to respond from our own frame of reference, before we get clear on the other person. I’m going to give you 3 techniques for reflective listening.

Because I want you to know how to get the other person’s story right. We want to affirm and clarify what we’ve heard and witnessed, and get our interpretations correct. We want to make sure we understand their HIP, their perceptions, feelings and intentions accurately and fully.

Have you been in a situation where someone misunderstood you? Was it confusing at first and then all of sudden clear because you realized they misinterpreted words? You likely used reflective listening when you discovered something was off, and attempted to affirm and clarify interpretations to get it right.

Maybe you’ve been frustrated that someone misinterpreted you. I have been at times, but then to release the frustration, I consider this thought: In general People think at a rate of 500 words per minute and talk at a rate of 100 words per minute. Sometimes meanings get confused and interpretation aren’t accurate. We all get things wrong sometimes.

People aren’t always perfect in speaking what they mean because there are so many thoughts going on, and sometimes the words they choose mean something different to the other person.

Two people can take whole different meanings from a situation or a story.  Our Human Interaction Processes combined with our life stories can result in very different interpretations, just like DNA is different in 2 races of people.

Difference doesn’t make either person automatically right or wrong. What is, just is, but 2 people talking with different views about the same story can be difficult to navigate, especially in sensitive or important interactions.

When I realize someone has misinterpreted me I immediately want to affirm and clarify to make sure both people understand each other’s truth.  Whether we agree with each other, and our processes, or not, at this point of the interaction, doesn’t matter. Do you like to deal with truths, or partial truths, or complete lies or wishful thinking?

It’s easier to navigate a crucial, sensitive or corrective conversation when we both understand each other’s truth. Would you agree?

To get clear on truths and affirm your and their understanding is correct, Clarify, clarify, clarify. It’s as important to communications as location, location; location is, to retail sales. Use one or more of these 3 techniques to affirm that you get your interpretations, and theirs, right!


Paraphrasing and Summarizing.




Remember in a communications process, the cycle of the HIP happens many times. As soon as something is said by one party, the HIP kicks in again for the other person, and interpretations, thought and feeling processes, can change based on what is heard or witnessed.

We often have to clarify and affirm more than once in a sensitive, crucial or corrective conversation.

Remember that we want to understand the feelings and intentions contained in what the other is saying, not just the thoughts, facts or ideas. And we want to respond with acceptance and empathy, not with indifference, cold objectivity, or fake concern.

The 1st technique is to paraphrase: summarize and restate what you heard in your words with your definitions and assumptions. And then ask if they’re correct. Tell them what you heard them say and ask: Am I saying it right? Did I get it?

Basically we’re repeating back what we’ve heard and saw, in an asking tone, until we are sure our interpretation is right. Another way to put it is: Summarize, Summarize , Summarize. ASK.  Just remember, don’t tell the other person what he or she feels, believes, or wants. Ask?

If someone is struggling to identify feelings or something going on for them, you might want to make suggestions, in an asking tone, about what they might be feeling or processing, in order to lead them. But if you do this, and they agree that they’re feeling or processing what you suggested, confirm they are sure!

You can also use the 2nd technique of Affirming called mirroring. Repeat back the exact words you heard and then state how you interpret them. This will also assure the speaker that you’re actively listening and they’ll feel like you care and like what they’re saying is important to you.

The 3rd technique is parroting. in an asking tone. It’s a technique to get others to expand and reveal more. You might say; Smart move? Or Angry?  Or Excited? You might even specifically ask them to elaborate.

Leil Lowndes also recommends this parroting technique when you’re trying to expand networks and communicating with people that you don’t know well. Parroting can get people talking. Use it. It helps keep people engaged and talking about themselves. Most people like to talk about themselves and what matters to them.

Do you like it when someone you’re talking too cares about what you’re saying? Most people like to feel like what they’re saying, matters. Paraphrasing, summarizing, mirroring, and parroting shows people what they’re saying matters to you.

Affirming in different methods,  gives people permission to talk more about themselves and it helps you affirm that you’re interpretations are correct.  Which is especially important in crucial sensitive, or corrective conversations.

Affirming and clarifying also gives people reassurance that someone is willing to help.  It can inspire someone to view things from another perspective too.

Clarifying helps avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. It often helps reduce defensiveness, resentments and false assumptions that can occur through misunderstanding. Get in the habit of doing Affirming and clarifying. It will make you a great communicator and leader.

Practice affirming and clarifying anytime you think of it. As the conversation evolves we may have to affirm and clarify often before going to step 6 in CONTACT of Finding common ground.

Don’t forget to use the tips for active listening throughout the Affirming process and the interaction as a whole.

Often, before finding common ground, we have to go back and forth through steps 1 to 5 in CONTACT confirming understanding of each person’s Human Interaction Process in the particular situation, until we’re both completely clear, and dealing with each other’s full truths.

The 1ST 5 STEPS of the CONTACT process in a sensitive, crucial or corrective conversation goes like this. We become 'C' Conscious of our own HIP, we 'O' Out ourselves with wise word choice and questioning.

Then we 'N' Notice the other person and ask about their HIP, then we 'T' Tune in and actively listen. Then we 'A' Affirm and clarify. We do it over and over until we’re both clear.

Now the Recap for Affirm and clarify: 1. Use Paraphrasing: in your own words, summarize, summarize, summarize.

2. Use Mirroring. Repeat back their whole statement using their exact words, and ask if you’re correct in what you heard, or 3. Use parroting, repeat just one or two words they said in an asking tone.

In the next video I’ll give some great tips for finding common ground so you can take a sensitive, important or corrective conversation to the next level. The 2nd C in CONTACT stands for Common ground.

Thanks for watching. Go out and make it an awesome day. Like this video if you like it. See you in the next one. By for now.

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