Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Augusta Views: Reflective Listening

I started thinking about this topic a couple of weeks ago with this post, and again today I realized how important it is to be a good listener.

Reflective listening (aka. active listening) is a way to make sure that you're hearing what the other person is saying. I think of it like those mirrors in shoe stores, you know that slant upwards so you can see the shoe properly? The mirror shows you what's in front of it, your shoe, but that tilt lets you see if it looks the way you think it looks.

Similarly, when you're listening to someone, repeating back to them what you've understood helps them to know you're on the same page. This technique is more useful in some situations than in others, admittedly. I hardly recommend it on a first date for instance! But in conversations where it is effective, reflective listening can make all the difference.

Take education, tutoring specifically. Upon initially meeting a student, it is the tutor's job to find out where exactly that student needs help. (Calculus is a pretty big subject!) If the tutor practices reflective listening as the student explains his issues, he gains a better picture of that student's needs and can therefore tutor him more effectively. The reverse is true as well. In any learning situation, whether from a tutor or a professor, the student will always do well to listen reflectively. Simply rephrase the concept & ask whoever is teaching to confirm your understanding or lack thereof. In fact, it's most helpful when you find out that you don't understand because then you can figure it out...before the test!

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