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Reflective Listening Statements Examples

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  • 0:04 What Is Reflective Listening?
  • 1:40 Five Types of Statements
  • 4:51 More Examples
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

Reflective listening statements take listening a step further to ensure that the speaker feels truly heard. Learn the definition and five categories of reflective listening and view various examples of reflective listening statements in this lesson.

What Is Reflective Listening?

Your friend tells you a problem and you're not sure what to say. Should you share your own similar struggles? Should you offer advice? Counselors will tell you a secret; just practicing reflective listening and using reflective listening statements will make your friend feel heard, cared for, and understood.

Reflective listening is being fully present with the speaker, refraining from talking about oneself or giving advice, and using reflective statements that assure the speaker that you are understanding their feelings, thoughts, and needs.

Typically, the format for a reflective statement is, 'You're feeling _____ because you are wanting/needing _____.'' Let's look at a quick example involving Amelia's problems with her boyfriend, Marco.

Amelia: I'm pretty sure Marco loves me, but he doesn't put effort into big celebrations like my birthday or our anniversary.

Gwen: So you're feeling unappreciated and you wish for Marco to be more thoughtful and chivalrous.

Amelia: Exactly! For example, for my birthday last month... (Amelia continues venting and expressing herself)

In everyday conversations, it is generally not instinctive or natural to be a reflective listener. We tend to have an inclination to talk about ourselves, advise others, tell stories, or agree or disagree with the speaker. Reflective listening, and using reflective listening statements, requires a person to have genuine empathy for the speaker. The listener must set aside his or her ego and have the motive for the speaker to gain more from the conversation than they do.

Five Types of Statements

First of all, reflective listening requires the listener to demonstrate that they are fully present and attentive to the speaker by providing appropriate eye contact, facial expression, and body language. Next comes the use of reflective listening words, phrases, and statements. There are five categories of reflective listening statements:

Acknowledgement Responses

'Uh huh.' 'Sure.' 'Go on.' Words and phrases such as these let the speaker know that you are following and understanding what they are saying. Their other purpose is to encourage the speaker to continue expressing themselves.

Here is an example conversation:

Victor: I like to think it's normal to fight with your fiancé a lot during the stressful time of planning a wedding.

Gus: Yes. Sure.

Victor: After all, you both have to agree and compromise on many different decisions. You're bringing two families together, and the financial stress...don't even get me started on that!

Gus: Absolutely!

Reflecting Content

This process involves putting the content of the speaker's message into your own words. This helps the speaker know that you are understanding the subject matter of which they are speaking. It also helps the listener confirm that they are correctly understanding the material that is being discussed.

Here's an example conversation:

Caleb: I'm afraid to show my report card to my mom. Out of my seven classes, I'm passing only two of them!

Daphne: (looking concerned) You're failing a majority of your classes.

Caleb: Exactly, and I know my mom is going to freak out...

Reflective Feelings

This requires a bit more work for the reflective listener than merely reflecting content because it requires the listener to 'listen for' feelings behind the speaker's content. If the speaker is verbally expressing a feeling, the listener is reflecting those feelings back to the speaker in the listener's own words.

Here's an example conversation:

Terrah: When I saw Rufus lifeless on the ground, I couldn't hold back. I burst into tears. I've had that dog since I was three years old.

Brooke: You were distraught and heartbroken.

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