Paraphrasing involves making sure that you understand the other person's words by using different words. This is not rephrasing, because the idea is to focus on the content of the message.
- This helps verify that we understood properly and helps avoid misunderstandings.
- This gives importance to what the other person is saying.
- It is positive reinforcement. It lets the other person know that we are attentive.
It is impossible to paraphrase without actively listening. For this reason, paraphrasing is an important part of active listening.
Effects of Paraphrasing
When people's words are paraphrased, they immediately feel understood. They are reassured; the person that they are talking to is listening and is interested in what is being said. In return, this encourages them to talk more. In fact, paraphrasing is widely used by counselors and psychologists as a technique to encourage people to express themselves.
Even inaccurate paraphrasing has positive effects because it encourages the speaker to clarify their ideas.
Therefore, paraphrasing is useful for someone who is being paraphrased, since this person will feel understood and encouraged to speak. At the same time, the person who is doing the paraphrasing also benefits because this will help him concentrate on the speaker and will make sure that he understands the message.