Reflective listening has its roots the fields of psychotherapy and in particular in the work of Carl Rogers as part of his “client-centred” approach. Reflective listening can be extremely useful in many communication situations but it is particularly beneficial in the realm of executive or business coaching.
There are two major aspects of reflective listening – the “listener orientation” and the “reflective technique”. In reflective listening, the listener adopts the belief or has the orientation that the capacity for self-insight, problem-solving, and growth resides primarily in the individual being coached or coachee. This means that the central questions for the coach are not “What can I do for this person?” or even “How do I see this person?” but rather “How does this person see themselves and their situation?” Rogers made the underlying orientation of the coach as a listener much more specific by noting that this ‘orientation’ contains four components: empathy, acceptance, congruence, and concreteness.
This brief booklet summarises the reflective listening process and provides simple explanations of each of Rogers four components, and how they can be applied.