Reflect back what you’ve heard if that seems appropriate.

— K Vidhya

This is next in the series of articles by Glocal Academy on effective listening tips

Listening has always been a pivotal aspect of healthcare system. A clinician’s ability to listen, understand, empathize and explain can have a profound effect on patient satisfaction. As a good clinician, we must learn the art of taking pauses and reflecting back on what one has heard to get a clearer perspective of the speaker’s feelings as well as ideas. In addition, at the same time making sure that we have understood the other person aptly.

Reflect back what you have heard if that seems appropriate. Sometimes when you are in a conversation, reflecting back what you have heard (facts/feelings) ensures that you have understood the speaker correctly. It also gives you and the speaker an opportunity to clear any misunderstandings. It is a way to hear and respond to another person that will increase shared understanding. If we improve our personal listening and communication skills, we will better understand other’s perspectives, emotions and needs. It is also called ‘Checkout’ method, which makes sure that both the parties understand each other’s viewpoints beyond words.

Reflecting back requires both attention and intention, and that you keep in mind how your own opinions and worldview shape up your interpretation of what was said.  Reflecting back or checkout method– builds trust and defuses any conflicts between people before they even begin. In everyday conversations, it is generally not instinctive or natural to be a reflective listener. We tend to have an inclination to talk about ourselves, advise others, tell stories, or agree or disagree with the speaker.

For Example–

Speaker: “I know I should start my weekly assignments earlier, but I’m always busy with other things. Then I wait until the last minute, and the product isn’t very good.”

Listener: “You have a busy schedule, and you’re having trouble making this class a priority.

Speaker: Exactly!

Here, the speaker clearly feels heard and understood by the listener even though he has not given any solution to the speaker’s problem. People always are not seeking solutions or answers… Many-a-times they just want to feel heard and understood. The next time you are having a serious conversation with someone take a moment to set the intention that you are going to listen mindfully and reflect what you hear. You might even take a moment to pause and tell yourself that you are going to listen rather than jumping in. When the other person has finished speaking, take a moment to pick out the feelings you hear them mention. Feel free to share your insights regarding ‘Reflective listening’ or any examples, which you would like to share– in the comments below.


About Author

K Vidhya

Third MBBS Student, AIIMS, Rishikesh
I am Member of Glocal Academy Creative Writers Group
 Ever since I remember, I have been awestruck by health care workers working tirelessly and with such compassion to make sure patients are comfortable and are getting better. Now that I am pursuing medicine, I enjoy interacting with different patients and understanding their varied infirmities. This interest of interacting with people has grown a lot more, since I attended my first session at Glocal Academy and understood the art of communication even better. Therefore, I started working with them and there has not been looking back since then. The subject I find most interesting is Oncology and Radiodiagnosis, which I plan to pursue in my later years. I am extremely fascinated by the fact that how much cancer has encroached populations across the world and still we have not succeeded in reaching firm treatment modalities until date, in spite of various research studies being done. I want to make an impact on my patients– by listening to them patiently, giving them my time and treating them with words of humility, humanity and compassion along with medicines.

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