Here are some exercises to help you develop your reflecting skills (much of the following comes from Seven Challenges Workbook by Dennis Rivers, M.A.):
Identifying feelings to reflect back
As you listen to people, try to create a brief summarize the feelings behind what they’re saying so that you can reflect those feelings back to them. For example, a co-worker is complaining about not getting a promotion and how the boss is a jerk. You might reflect back those feelings as, “Sounds like you’re not happy with the way things turned out.” You could have said “the boss is a jerk” or “the boss is ok” or “you’re a jerk for complaining,” but the key is to only try to identify their feelings and simply repeat them.
As you listen to the important people in your life, give very brief summaries of the experiences they are talking about and name the want or feeling that appears to be at the heart of the experience.
- “So you were really happy about that…”
- “So you drove all the way over there and they didn’t have the part they promised you on the phone. What a let-down…
- “Sounds like you wanted a big change in that situation…”
- “Wow. Your dog got run over. You must be feeling really terrible…”
The point here is to empathize, not to advise. If you added to that last statement, “The guy who ran over your dog must be a total a-hole!! I’d sue her today.” You’d be taking over the conversation and also leading the person away from her or his feelings and toward your own.