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Techniques > Conversation techniques > Reflecting > Parroting

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Simply repeat what the other person has said.

Only repeat short phrases. Do not parrot long speeches (which would be difficult to do anyway).

Correct the sense of the language, of course. If they say 'me', then change it to 'you'.

Use parroting to encourage them to talk more. Just repeat what they said, then pause. They will fill in the gap and keep on talking. Encouragement parroting need only be the last few words only and not even a complete sentence.

Use parroting to check that you understand what they say. Sometimes, when you repeat what they say out loud is when you first understand what they are really meaning. In this case, you might follow up quickly with an apology and explanation.

Be careful not to over-use parroting -- otherwise you will sound like a parrot (and the other person will assume you have a similar intelligence).


Other: I am not sure what to do.
You: So, you're not sure what to do...
Other: Yes, though I though I could take time to visit friends and do some reflecting.
You: ...visiting friends and doing some reflecting...

Other: I want to come with you.
You: You want to come with me?
Other: Not now, but next time you go.
You: Ah -- I understand. I'll see if I can arrange that.

Other: I want to come with you.
You: You want to come with me? Ah! you mean next week, don't you?


The simplest way of testing understanding is to repeat the words that they have just said. This tests that you have heard correctly.

Parroting is particularly useful when they have said something that does not immediately make sense to you -- this lets them hear what they have said and allows them to revise what they have said.

Some people are habitual parrots, regularly repeating words to encourage others or maybe vocalizing what they are repeating in their heads. They often do not realize that doing this can be rather annoying.

Note that parroting is a reflection first of content, rather than meaning.

See also


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