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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Isolating Skills: Paraphrasing

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Thinking Collaborative


April 14, 2014

This month will support you in developing skill in the tools of Cognitive CoachingSM. We suggest that the best way to begin if you are new to this work is to isolate one skill rather than to try to do everything at once. Each week this month we will offer suggestions on one skill that will allow you to focus and practice that skill.

Paraphrasing is the most fundamental listening skill in the Cognitive CoachingSM repertoire. When paraphrasing we send a message that speaks to, “I am listening, I care about you, and I am trying to understand you.” Paraphrasing is respectful and requires full attention with both the mind and body. It requires setting aside autobiographical, solution, and inquisitive listening.

As you practice this week, remember to paraphrase before asking a question. This develops relationship and understanding before asking a question for rigor in thinking.

When paraphrasing, give yourself time to pause before paraphrasing in order to think about what you have heard. Offer a paraphrase that begins with “you,” not “I.” Make the paraphrase shorter than the speaker’s words with the intent to capture the essence of the message.

Look for opportunities to paraphrase this week. Some might be in meetings, in family conversations, with colleagues in one-to-one interactions, and with children. Notice the effects of your paraphrases and the different types you use.

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