September 11, 2017

In the 3rd edition Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learners, by Arthur L. Costa and Robert J. Garmston, paraphrasing is described this way: “Paraphrasing is one of the most valuable and least-used tools in human interaction. A well-crafted paraphrase communicates: “I am trying to understand you and therefore I value what you have to say” (p 48). The coach or facilitator must select one of three logical levels to begin paraphrasing.

Acknowledging paraphrases are one type. The non-linguistic representation of this type of paraphrase is the mirror. The coach or facilitator reflects the essence of content and emotion back to the speaker or captures “group think.” In group dialogue or coaching, the acknowledging paraphrase helps to refine and mediate thinking. If the paraphrase is not quite accurate, the speaker has the opportunity to further refine the language of the paraphrase. Examples of acknowledging paraphrases might be:

“So you are excited about this new class.”

“This team is concerned about the reading initiative.”

What might be some ways that you can increase your use of acknowledging paraphrases to mediate thinking, “align the parties, and create a safe environment for thinking?” (Costa and Garmston, p 48)