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Avoiding “Meeting Hell”: Key Benefits of Third Party Facilitation

Sue Robins - Wednesday, July 13, 2016


"The facilitator's job is tosupport everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator

encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility."


Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Makingby Sam Kaner, et al



Do your organization’s meetings and retreats often take up hours of time but somehow fail to produce actionable plans and results at their conclusion? If so, you’re not alone. The challenge of conducting truly effective, results-oriented meetings is common in business today. Often times, the only results generated by this so-called “meeting hell” are ruffled feathers, low morale and the promise of follow-up meetings to cover the same agenda.


These results (or lack of results) are not surprising considering the ingredients in the typical meeting mix: attendees with differing agendas, viewpoints, and perspectives; power struggles that overshadow shared goals and objectives, and personality differences determining which voices are heard - with dominant personalities taking over discussions and steamrolling or discouraging those less dominant souls from getting a word or thought in edgewise.


The Solution to “Meeting Hell”


If you have an important meeting or retreat in your future, never fear, meeting facilitation is here! An experienced outside or third party facilitator will steer your meeting and its attendees from the common meeting hell pitfalls. An effective facilitator will keep a continual eye on shared outcomes while:


  • - Creating an inclusive environment
  • - Providing a neutral third party perspective
  • - Managing the meeting process
  • - Defining the issues without bias
  • - Dealing with any rivalries within the group
  • - Encouraging group problem-solving
  • - Helping to create accountability
  • - Keeping the meeting agenda on track
  • - Encouraging all attendees to participate and engage
  • - Steering discussions in a constructive and positive direction
  • - Assisting in the development of specific goals and action plans 


Reaching the Pearly Gates


Effective facilitators can bring out the best in each group member and help all participants to work together to address issues and agenda items. An outside facilitator also brings a fresh, objective perspective to the discussion and helps the group to produce actionable plans and results. Why not reject “Meeting Hell” and make your next meeting or retreat a “Slice of Heaven” instead? The truth is, discussion can be a powerful mechanism for active learning and decision-making and a well-facilitated discussion allows participants to explore new ideas while recognizing and valuing the contributions of others.  


Top Tips for Time Management

Sue Robins - Monday, May 16, 2016


In our world today, people are busier than ever. Our days, weeks and months fly by in a frenzy of activity until we find another blurry year has passed. Where has the time gone? What did I accomplish? It’s true that our society is moving at a blistering pace and in the workplace the highest achievers are those who manage their time exceptionally well.


Good time management is not about who can work the fastest and cram more tasks into the same amount of time. Good time management requires a shift in focus from activities to results, for simply being busy is not the same as being effective. Good time management comes from planning, implementing systems and continually evaluating work activities…it is working smarter, not harder.


Here are a few suggestions to boost your workplace productivity and time management prowess:


Question Your Actions


Beware of “busy work” – those mundane tasks that are always there to distract you from more important projects. Ask yourself, “Given my list of priorities, is this the best possible use of my time right now?” If not, stop what you’re doing and redirect your efforts toward an activity that will give you a greater bang for your buck.


  • Closed Door Policy (Sometimes)
  • If constant drop-in visitors are impeding your headway on important tasks, don’t be shy about closing your door for a time (an hour or two) to discourage interruptions and allow you to fully concentrate on your work.
  • Curb Your Communications
  • Responding immediately to continuous phone calls, emails and instant messages can quickly eat up your work day. Send your calls to voicemail and check your messages and email once in the morning, once after lunch, and once more before you leave the office. This strategy provides for timely response to important issues and also allows you to get some work done.
  • De-clutter Your Desk
  • Piles and stacks of papers on the desk can be a distraction for some. If this sounds familiar, try organizing and clearing the way so you can focus fully on the work at hand.
  • Take Note
  • Keep a pad of paper on your desk and write down the to-do’s that come to your mind while you’re working on other tasks. This will empty your head of the things you’re afraid you might forget and allow you to be present with your current to-do.
  • Organize To-Do’s
  • Sorting through an unattended “in-box” tray can quickly become another time-sucking undertaking in itself. Rather than piling all of your incoming paperwork into one tray, set up a series of action files on your desk with one for each type of to-do (“to read”, “to file”, ”to contact”, etc.). As you receive new stacks of paperwork, take a second to sort the to-do’s into the appropriate files for when you’re ready to take action.
  • Schedule It
  • If you have activities and tasks on your to-do lists that never seem to get checked “done”, try scheduling time on your own calendar to work on each of them. Commit an amount of time on a specific day for each item (or each day for recurring items) and watch them magically disappear from your list.
  • The 30 Seconds (or Less) Rule
  • Some to-do items can be completed super quickly – so evaluate them as they cross your desk. If it can be completed in 30 seconds or less, just go ahead and knock it out – and off of your plate.
  • Procrastinate When Needed
  • In contrast to the 30 Seconds (or Less) Rule above, let routine, non-priority items that can take a bit longer to complete pile up for a few days, then schedule some time on your calendar to take care of them all at once.
  • Find Your Groove
  • Hopping back and forth from one activity to another can be a big time-waster, rather than constantly switching gears, try to handle the bulk of one type of to-do at a time. For example, make all of your calls, send all of your emails, set all of your appointments, etc. before moving on to the next task. This allows you to get in a groove with each activity, saving time and effort in the process.
  • As you can see from the simple suggestions above, time management is not rocket science, however, the combined effect of making small adjustments to how you approach your work can reap big results.
  • With a little thought and planning, you and your team can raise your time management I.Q. and stop working harder than you have to!

Top 10 Skills for Supervisory Success

Sue Robins - Wednesday, March 09, 2016


“You cannot lead a battle if you think you look silly on a horse.”

~ Napoleon Bonaparte

 Napoleon - You cannot lead a battle if you think you look silly on a horse.

Very often, employees are promoted to the role of supervisor due to their strong technical or operational expertise in a given area. While it is beneficial for supervisors to be content or process experts, the role of supervising and leading others demands far more of a chosen individual. Further, poor supervision has an enormous impact and cost on both the individual employee and on the organization as a whole.


So, if you think promoting your top employee to a supervisory role is a reward for high performance, think again. You could be setting your star employee up for failure (and ultimately, may lose said star) if you are not adequately preparing them through training to meet the responsibilities and expectations of their new role. As Napoleon Bonaparte alludes to in the quote above, confidence is king in effectively leading others and this quality can only be attained by honing the skills required for success.


Below are 10 key skills to consider in identifying and developing your supervisory talent:


1. Communication

She is transparent, sharing information and encouraging candid and open dialog among team members. She ensures that all members share information and have access to the data and input they need to perform their tasks and responsibilities effectively.


  • 2. Technical Expertise
  • He understands the various roles that he is overseeing and the production systems necessary to operate the business successfully.
  • 3. Ability to Work Autonomously
  • She is able to work independently, solve problems and move ahead without constant instructions.
  • 4. Leadership Ability
  • He is confident, knows himself well, people gravitate toward him, and he commands respect and trust among peers and others.
  • 5. Organization
  • She organizes time and priorities to achieve business results in a timely manner.
  • 6. Adaptability and Change Management
  • He accepts that change is inevitable and embraces change with innovation, courage and resiliency.
  • 7. Models Key Values
  • She is a role model, consistently demonstrating positive work ethics and values and conducts duties of the position with truth, sincerity and fairness.
  • 8. Team and People Building
  • He understands the importance of mentoring and coaching employees and shows enthusiasm for helping others improve or develop new skills.
  • 9. Sound Judgement
  • She applies knowledge of the business and tasks and uses common sense and analysis to make well-informed, sound decisions.
  • 10. Results-driven
  • He directs his actions and the actions of others toward achieving goals that are critical to the success of the operation.
  • So, how do your management and supervisory teams rate on these top 10 skills? The good news is that, like all skills, supervisory skills can be learned. Everyone benefits from confident, well trained supervisors who are prepared to provide the necessary guidance, structure, support and encouragement to their staff.
  • Create win-win-win scenarios for your supervisors, employees and the organization as a whole by building the level of personal confidence in each of your supervisors and setting them up for success through training and key skill development!


5 Essential Customer Service Skills and How to Develop Them

Sue Robins - Wednesday, January 13, 2016


It takes MONTHS to find a customer and only SECONDS to lose one.


Customer Service Training
Customer service is a lot about feeling. How does a customer feel when they walk away from a particular service or interaction? Believe it or not, there are just a handful of skills that make the difference between providing average customer service and providing the kind of service that makes customers feel fabulous about their experience!

Below is a list of five essential skills to garner solid customer loyalty and happiness, as well as tips for how to develop these skills personally and across your team.

Customer Service Skill #1: Empathy

Empathy may be the single most important customer service skill to develop. Never forget, customers are people too, and it’s highly important to their happiness for them to feel listened to and understood. In order to understand another, we must step into their shoes. Here are a couple of tips for developing empathy in adults:

  • Spend time with people who are different than you. Strike up conversations with various people you interact with throughout your day, open your mind, and get a sense (and appreciation) for how they think differently than you.
  • Practice mindfulness. Learning about and practicing mindfulness is an effective means of developing self-awareness AND empathy. Research has shown that improvements in self-awareness tend to simultaneously develop empathy.
  • Customer Service Skill #2: Positivity
  • Positivity here refers to the language that you use. Positive language is highly powerful. For example, the following words typically foreshadow a negative message:
  • Unfortunately = I’m about to tell you something bad.
  • As you know = I’m putting you in your place and confirming your worst suspicions.
  • I’m afraid that = Like the above, also always comes before bad news.
A simple tip on how to develop positivity: Pay attention to the language you use and replace your negative words with positive ones…and stop using “actually” and “but” in your customer service communications.

Example Sentence - Before: “I really appreciate you writing in, but unfortunately we don’t have this feature available.”
Example Sentence- After: “I really appreciate you writing in! Unfortunately, we don’t have this feature available.”
As you can see, tiny phrasing adjustments can mean the difference between leaving a customer feeling positively or negatively about an interaction or service.

  • Customer Service Skill #3: Patience
  • Customer service is not an easy job. Customers can get angry with you, need extra attention, and make things downright difficult. Developing patience is the best tool for delivering better service. Here’s how to do it:
  • Understand the addictive nature of anger, irritation, and outrage. The more one feels these emotions, the more likely they are to keep feeling them. Just understanding that makes it clear why it’s so important to be more patient.
  • Upgrade your attitude towards discomfort and pain. When you’re in an uncomfortable situation with a customer, remember these words “this is uncomfortable, not intolerable.” 
  • Pay attention to when the irritation/pain starts. Identify the cues that cause you to lose your cool so you can head the situation off at the pass.
  • Control your self-talk. Have you noticed that the things we say to ourselves have an uncanny way of coming true, whether positive or negative? So, instead of thinking to yourself “this customer is really starting to get on my nerves,” think something like “this is challenging me, but I’m going to stay calm and do what it takes to solve the problem.”
  • Customer Service Skill #4: Clarity in Communication
  • Delivering crystal-clear communication saves a lot of time in clarifying what you meant later down the line, so why not learn to communicate very clearly the first time around? Here is one big tip for developing clarity in communication:
  • Think about how you would explain the situation, instructions, etc., to a five-year old. Now, this does not mean you speak to your customers like children, rather, just use simple, straightforward, easy-to-understand language. 
  • Customer Service Skill #5: Continuous Improvement
  • Measuring your performance is the only way to know for sure what kind of impact your efforts to develop better skills are having on your service. Even taking simple notes on average reply time, replies per ticket, and customer satisfaction feedback can help you see what works and what doesn’t work for your customers.
  • So, try implementing these five essential skills into your customer service interactions and take note: are your customers feeling fabulous and successful about the service or assistance you provided? Settle for nothing less than a resounding YES!

Problem Solving and Decision Making

Sue Robins - Wednesday, November 11, 2015


“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

-John Foster Dulles, Former Secretary of State

Problem Solving, Ascend Training Solutions

Problem solving and decision making are daily activities in the workplace and, let’s face it, in this game called life. Interestingly, though these are critical skills we need to call upon each day, successful problem solving and decision making can be a mysterious realm and most of us don’t really know how to do it effectively.

When faced with a problem or a tough decision, people tend to do one or all of three things: 1) feel afraid or uncomfortable and wish it would go away, 2) feel the need to quickly come up with the “right” answer, and 3) look for someone to blame (please, finger-pointing is SO unproductive and quite unattractive!). The truth is, there will always be problems to resolve and decisions to make, so it behooves us all to get *very* comfortable with and downright confident in our problem solving and decision making skills.


An important point to realize and remember is that problems and challenges are opportunities for improving the systems and relationships involved and they provide valuable insight that enables us to fix what needs fixing. And there’s more good news…we don’t need to leave problem solving and decision making to chance.


Read on to acquire a sturdy and reliable seven-step problem-solving process that can be applied to any type of problem to be solved or decision to be made.


1. Identify the issues 

    • -Separate the listing of issues from the identification of interests
  • -Get clear on what the problem is
    • -Remember that different people might have different views of what the issues are

2. Understand the interests of everyone involved

  • -Interests are the needs that you want satisfied by any given solution
  • -Key stakeholders must review the definition of deliverables and must agree they accurately reflect what they are expecting to be delivered
  • -The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests
  • -Active listening is key – put aside your differences and listen with the intention to understand
  • -Separate the naming of interests from the listing of solutions

3. List the possible solutions/options

  • This is the time for some brainstorming and there may be room for lots of creativity
  • Separate the listing of options from the evaluation of options

  • 4. Evaluate the options
  • -Honestly assess the pluses and minuses
  • -Separate the evaluation of options from the selection of options

5. Select an option or options

  • -What’s the best option in the balance of steps 1-4 above?
  • -Is there a way to “bundle” a number of options together for a most satisfactory solution?

6. Document the agreement(s)

  • -Don’t rely on memory
  • -Writing the solution down will help you think through all of the details and implications

7. Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation

  • -Conditions may change. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances…if this, then that
  • -Decide how you will monitor compliance and follow-through
  • -Create opportunities to evaluate the agreements and their implications, i.e. give the solution a trial run and evaluate after a specified amount of time

Methodology (and Practice) Makes Perfect

Effective problem solving and decision making does take some time and focus, however, it is time and energy well spent when compared to dealing later with a problem not well solved or a decision not well thought through.

The beauty of the system outlined above is that it provides a practical methodology that can be applied to finding a solution to any problem or decision that may arise and can be leveraged within a large group, between two people, or by one person faced with a difficult decision. Whether related to the workplace or one’s personal life, a structured approach to problem solving and decision making eases the process, promotes confidence, and provides peace of mind for all involved.

Project Management Best Practices

Sue Robins - Thursday, September 03, 2015

TOPIC SPOTLIGHT: Project Management Best Practices

“All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically. The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.”

Stephen Covey


At the outset, taking on responsibility to manage a project (or multiple projects) can be daunting. Whether planning a big event, developing a new website, launching a product to market, rolling out a training program or redecorating your home, you need to employ key project management techniques to help ensure your project is a winner. Below is an overview of the top seven best practices at the heart of good project management, fundamentals that can help you achieve project success.


Ascend Training Solutions - Project Management Best Practices


1. Define the Scope and Objectives

First and foremost, understand the project objectives. Suppose you are asked to organize a company blood donor campaign. Is the objective to get as much blood donated as possible? Or, is it to raise the local company profile? Identifying the real objectives will help you plan the project.

Scope defines the boundaries of the project. In the same blood donor campaign example, is the organization looking to take staff members to the blood bank or should employees make their own way there? Deciding what's in or out of scope will determine the amount of work to be performed and the types of resources that will be needed.


Early on, along with the scope and objectives, understand who the stakeholders are, what they expect to be delivered and enlist their support. Once you've defined the scope and objectives, get the stakeholders to review and agree to them.


2. Define the Deliverables

You must define exactly what will be delivered by the project. If your project is an advertising campaign for a new energy drink, then one deliverable might be the artwork for an advertisement. So, decide what tangible things will be delivered and document them in enough detail to enable someone else to produce them correctly and effectively.


Key stakeholders must review the definition of deliverables and must agree they accurately reflect what they are expecting to be delivered.

3. Plan the Project

Planning requires that the project manager determine which people, resources and budget are required to complete the project. This information is used to develop the project plan.


You must define what activities are required to produce the deliverables using techniques such as Work Breakdown Structures, which break down the project work into manageable sections. You must estimate the time required for each activity, dependencies between activities and decide a realistic schedule to complete them. Involve the project team, if applicable, in estimating how long activities will take to complete. Set milestones to indicate critical dates during the project. Write all of this into the project plan and get the key stakeholders to review and agree to the plan.

4. Communicate

Project plans are useless unless they've been communicated effectively to the stakeholders and the project team. Every team member needs to be clear on his or her responsibilities. Further, for large projects, holding regular status update meetings with the team is crucial to ensure the project is moving along on schedule and team members are on top of their tasks. Regular status meetings are also a great way to communicate as a group, anticipate any problems and make course corrections as needed.


5. Tracking and Reporting Project Progress

Once your project is underway you must monitor and compare the actual progress with the planned progress. You will need progress reports from project team members. You should record variations between the actual and planned cost, schedule and scope. You should report variations to your manager and key stakeholders and take corrective actions if variations get too large.


You can adjust the plan in many ways to get the project back on track but you will always end up juggling cost, scope and schedule. If the project manager changes one of these, then one or both of the other elements will inevitably need changing. It is juggling these three elements - known as the project triangle - that typically causes a project manager the most headaches!


6. Change Management

Stakeholders often change their mind mid-project about what must be delivered. Sometimes the business environment changes after the project starts, so assumptions made at the beginning of the project may no longer be valid. This often means the scope or deliverables of the project need changing. If a project manager accepted all changes into the project without revising the scope and deliverables, the project would inevitably go over budget, be late and might never be completed.


By managing changes, the project manager can make decisions about whether or not to incorporate the changes immediately or in the future, or to reject them. This increases the chances of project success because the project manager controls how the changes are incorporated, can allocate resources accordingly and can plan when and how the changes are made. Not managing changes effectively is often a reason why projects fail.

7. Risk Management

Risks are events that can adversely affect the successful outcome of the project. Such risks include: staff lacking the skills to perform the work, materials not being delivered on time, unforeseen weather changes, facilities issues and many others. Risks will vary for each project, but the key risks to a project (or those most likely to occur) must be identified as soon as possible. “Plan Bs” must be made to avoid the risk, or, if the risk can’t be avoided, to lessen the risk’s impact if it occurs. This is known as risk management and involves continually reviewing risks and looking out for new ones that could crop up.

In Conclusion

Following these project management best practices can’t guarantee a successful project, but adhering to these fundamentals will provide a strong framework and a foundation for a better chance of success. If you are managing any project, disregard these best practices at your own risk!

TOPIC SPOTLIGHT: Benefits of In-house, Outsourced, and Online Workforce Training

Sue Robins - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

“To train, or not to train, that is NOT the question! Rather, what is your
preferred mode of training delivery?”

— Ascend Training Solutions

There’s no doubt that workforce training and development provides employees with valuable knowledge and tools they need to optimally perform their duties and work effectively within an organization. For these reasons and more, staff training is a wise investment for employers and a real win-win scenario for both employers and employees. However, an important consideration in planning employee training is whether to task an external professional organization with the training or to hire and/or train in-house staff (Train the Trainer) to conduct the training. Then, of course, there’s the online training option, which lends itself well to some specific types of training and topics, and less so to others. Whether in-house, outsourced, or online, each mode of delivery has its own benefits and advantages, and thus, needs to be weighed and considered in relation to each organization’s unique needs and structure. A few points to consider:


Advantages of In-house Training

  • In-house training programs can be developed specifically for the company and the way it conducts business to meet the specific training needs of its employees.
  • Developed in-house training programs are readily available and can be easily revisited and delivered to new groups of employees, as needed.
  • In-house trainers have knowledge of company employees, policies and procedures, enabling them to engage effectively with training that complements employee skills and personalities, and specifically addresses their personal needs and areas for growth.

Benefits of Outsourced Training

  • External professional trainers are specialists at what they do, focusing solely on content development, course and materials design, and the latest learning methods to deliver training across a wide variety of industries and to all levels of employees, from the top down.
  • Not only do external professional trainers have extensive training content on a wide variety of topics, they also can quickly come up to speed on an organization’s industry, practices, and challenges, and create new training programs tailored to an organization’s needs.
  • Professionally developed programs are often filled with various exercises that provide hands-on demonstration of techniques and tools being covered and are likely to get employees thinking about business in a broader sense.

Why Online Training?

  • Employees can train anytime, anywhere - whether they’re all located together in a classroom or scattered in a variety of time zones, employees can tap into the same course materials, and at a time that’s convenient to them.
  • Since most online learning technologies integrate online quizzes and other tools, evaluation of the pace and efficacy of learning is immediate.
  • With clever design, user experience, and multimedia, online courses can be a very rich and effective learning experience and result in strong learning retention.

It’s always nice to have options, no? Since there are strong advantages to in-house, outsourced, and online training alike, an organization may choose to incorporate one, two, or all three of these training delivery modes into the overall company training program. In making the final determination on the “best” or preferred method of training delivery at any given time, an organization should be sure to consider the topic(s) to be covered, the population to be trained, the geographical locations of the trainees, the time available to complete the training, and the available budget. Remember, no matter what method of delivery is employed, at the end of the day workforce training is a true win-win for an organization and its employees, so…happy training to all!

Active Listening and Effective Interactions

Sue Robins - Monday, May 11, 2015


Active Listening & Effective Interactions



“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

--Stephen R. Covey


Listening skills are vital to our success in business – and in life. Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees to improve customer satisfaction and productivity, and increase information sharing among work groups. “Active listeningmeans, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said with an intention to understand the message rather than passively hearing what the speaker is saying. The crux of active listening lies in listening with all of the senses. This means, as well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the active listener is perceived to be listening (READ: is engaged) – otherwise, the speaker may conclude that that the listener is uninterested in what is being said and/or the information is not being taken in by the listener.

So, how does an effective active listener convey his or her interest and engagement to the speaker? This can be done by using an array of both non-verbal and verbal messages:

Non-Verbal Signs of Active Listening




Small smiles can be used to show that the listener is paying attention to what is being said or as a way of agreeing or being happy about the messages being received. Combined with nods of the head, smiles can be powerful in affirming that messages are being listened to and understood.


Eye Contact

It is normal and usually encouraging for the listener to look at the speaker. Eye contact can however be intimidating, especially for more shy speakers – gauge how much eye contact is appropriate for any given situation. Combine eye contact with smiles and other non-verbal messages to encourage the speaker.



Posture can convey a lot about the sender and receiver in interpersonal interactions. The attentive listener tends to lean slightly forward or sideways while sitting. Other signs of active listening may include a slight slant of the head or resting the head on one hand, depending on the situation.



Automatic reflection or mirroring of any facial expressions used by the speaker can be a sign of attentive listening. In more emotional situations, reflective expressions can help to show sympathy and empathy. Note that attempting to consciously mimic facial expressions can be a sign of inattention.



Remaining focused and avoiding distraction is critical. The active listener refrains from fidgeting, looking at a clock or watch, doodling, playing with his or hair, or picking the fingernails.

While this is a general list of non-verbal signs of active listening, it is worth noting that these non-verbal signs may not be appropriate in all situations and across all cultures, so best judgement must be applied.

Verbal Signs of Active Listening

Positive Verbal Reinforcement

Although some positive words of encouragement are typically beneficial to the speaker, the listener should use them sparingly so as not to distract from what is being said or place unnecessary emphasis on parts of the message. Casual use of words and phrases, such as “yes”, “um hmm”, or “indeed” can become irritating to the speaker if overused, so it can be helpful to elaborate and explain why you are agreeing with a certain point.



Remembering a few key points, or even the name of the speaker, can help to reinforce that the messages sent have been received and understood and that listening has been successful. Remembering details, ideas, and concepts from previous conversations proves that attention was kept and is likely to encourage the speaker to continue. During longer exchangesue@ascendtrainingsolutions.coms, it may be appropriate to take brief notes to act as a memory jog when questioning or clarifying later.



The listener can demonstrate that he or she has been paying attention by asking relevant questions and/or making statements that build or help to clarify what the speaker has said. By asking relevant questions the listener also helps to reinforce that they have an interest in what the speaker has been saying.



Reflecting is closely repeating or paraphrasing what the speaker has said in order to show comprehension. Used sparingly, reflection is a powerful skill that can reinforce the message of the speaker and demonstrate understanding.



Clarifying involves asking questions of the speaker to ensure that the correct message has been received. Clarification usually involves the use of open questions, enabling the speaker to expand on certain points as necessary.



Repeating a summary of what has been said back to the speaker is a technique used by the active listener to repeat what has been said in his or her own words. Summarizing reiterates the key points of what has been said in a logical and clear way and gives the speaker a chance to clarify, if needed.

Since effective active listening is a skill that underpins all positive human interactions and relationships, it is well worth spending some time and effort thinking about and developing better listening skills. Why not start today by putting these very tools and ideas into practice?
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