Rephrasing – A path to a better communication?

   Rephrasing is a therapeutic technique developed by Carl Rogers which represents the expression in a more concise way whatever the other person just said (rephrasing is different from reframing which is another therapeutic method, but this second one is used for changing the context or the perspective with a different one that fits at least as good). Since he was a psychologist, he developed this method as a way to enhance the therapeutic process, but can we use it in our daily lives?

   Basically, rephrasing means saying the same crap with different words. While reading about this, I remembered what Jacques Salome and Sylvie Galland wrote about the steps each communication should have (I’ve described them here) and I think that this rephrasing could be successfully used for part 4, confirming that you understood what the other said.

   I believe this is useful because we can test our understanding about what the other just said and if we get it right, we’ll create the impression to the person we’re trying to communicate with that he/she has been understood and if we’re not getting it right, we’re giving the chance to that person to explain it better. This way, I believe that the communication process is improved.

   Here is a rephrasing example:

Person 1: I’ve started to talk to the phone with my mother in that worst moment and you know what that’s like.

Person 2: (Instead of just saying I do, which implies filtering this affirmation through own life experiences): So talking to the phone with your mother changed that worst moment?

Person 1: Yes, it made it better. It was the best timing ever!

   When we know that person better, we might know what he or she is referring to, but maybe a short confirmation wouldn’t harm. That person will feel that he or she is listened and understood while our level of knowing and understanding that person increases. Doing this also provokes us and the others to be more specific in what we say, which is what Jordan B. Peterson recommends.

   How often do you rephrase while communicating and how people react to it?

34 thoughts on “Rephrasing – A path to a better communication?

  1. Rephrasing is good for showing empathy and understanding, but I think we have to be subtle when using it. I remember having a couple of sessions with a therapist, and I was just so aware of her rephrasing/paraphrasing everything back at me that it felt inauthentic and robotic. Perhaps it’s because I trained as a counsellor years ago (Carl Rogers based) and so I was more aware than normal, but I just remember how annoying it was in a therapy setting.

  2. I always rephrase in the calls with my costumers. You need to be sure that you understand a stranger in the right way. I love the input of Jordan B Peterson. He can really show us to bring communication on a higher level. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I should try to rephrase in private too. It helps to improve the communication for sure

    1. Thank you for reading! I believe that communication alone has a huge impact over ourselves so if we improve it, we can make our lives a little better and also we can have a better understanding of other people. We can also create deeper connections with whomever we want.

  3. Politicians are very good at rephrasing, just saying… 🙂

    “There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt” Maya Angelou

      1. They might, but do you have? Whatever other people are doing is their responsibility. We can only control our sh*t.

      2. Yes, we are what we are, but rephrasing isn’t about us. I believe it’s about us making sure we understand other people’s point of view.

  4. Oh, this gets used all the time here. My husband knows what he “means” to say, but often times phrases it in ways that don’t mesh. So I will rephrase it back to him, and most of the time the response is “That’s what I just said!” It helps to clarify for me his intent. Other times, this will lead to a further break down of his own personal verbal shorthand, which makes it a little easier to get where he’s coming from.

  5. This is really helpful! I find it hard to communicate with people because I thought I always needed a response. I am going to try this when meeting new people, and hopefully, this will help me meet new people! Thanks!

  6. I often find myself rephrasing what I said specially when the people I am talking to do not completely understood what I said. Sometimes, they get the message, but seem to be confused by the message. So I end up repeating my message using different, but hopefully, easier to understand tone.

  7. I do this all the time, because I’m a high school teacher, so I know when they don’t understand. BUT! Because I tend to do it automatically and my husband and daughter are notorious silent types. So I tend to keep restating the same thing in various ways until they let me know they even heard what I said, let alone understood it. It gets me in trouble sometimes. LOL

    1. It is useful to use it so we can express the same idea in a different way, but it’s also useful to use it so we make sure we understood other people ideas. This way, they can confirm if their ideas were proper understood so the communication is enhanced.
      What do you think is the main reason your husband and daughter tend to stay silent?

      1. My husband is very inconsistent though. He’s always watching a video because he likes background noise. He is a multi-tasker. We’ve been together 13 years and I can’t tell when he is listening, when he has tuned out, or when he is just waiting for me “to be finished” so he can present his idea. I have to keep asking him if he’s listening, and he gets defensive, which is annoying but I know what he’s like. I know my daughter is silent because she’s already tuned out! Hahaha. Otherwise she’s very responsive – Like me!

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