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Active listening skills are essential to eliciting interests from people. Here is an example of one method for getting beyond the obvious to uncover the other person’s motivations.

Step One:

Restate their words exactly as they said them

  • It seems to me that you are saying . . .
  • What I hear is . . . .

Step Two:

Ask clarifying questions

  • What is your greatest concern here today?
  • What bothers you the most about that suggestion?
  • What about that is important to you?
  • Tell me more about that.
  • What does that look like to you?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you suggest?

Step Three:

Reframe their response in a way that will allow them to be heard and reflects their interests.

  • I hear what you are saying. You are saying that _________ {positive statement} is important to you.
  • I get it now. _________ {positive statement} is important to you.

Step Four:

Make a counter proposal. Now that you understand what the other person is trying to say, and the other person feels heard, s/he is much more likely to greet a counter proposal as an invitation to solve the problem.

  • Now that I understand ____________ {positive statement} is important, what if we were to . . .


Their Position: You cannot use any information gleaned from your interviews in any written materials or in lectures at the university.          

Restate:          What I hear you saying is that it is important to you that I not use any information from any of my interviews in any written materials. Am I correct?

Clarify:            What about my not using any materials is important to you?

Interests:         _____________________________________________

Reframe:        I hear what you are saying. You do not want me to violate your privacy, breach confidentiality or damage your image.

Counter Proposal:     I understand that you want to protect your privacy, but what if I used pseudonyms and did not reveal any proprietary information about your company in my written materials etc? Will that work for you?