Reflective Listening Reflections

latte drakehotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latte factor in Motivational Interviewing

 

Reflective listening, as it’s used in Motivational Interviewing, can include both simple (content-focused) and complex (beneath-the-surface) reflections. I like to use the analogy of an iceberg to illustrate the difference between simple and complex reflections (link to article); but the iceberg image doesn’t quite to do justice to the richness of what’s “below the waterline”.

 

At a recent professional development workshop I attended, the facilitator used the image of a café latte to illustrate listening for varying verbal and non-verbal content. This got me thinking: a better (and better-tasting) analogy for reflective listening might well be a macchiato versus an iceberg:

The top layer of foam represents the spoken content that the person offers.

The middle (espresso) layer represents the person’s thoughts and feelings.

The bottom layer – the foundation, as it were – represents the person’s values and beliefs.

 

 

Accurate empathy (that is, listening with ears, eyes, undivided attention, and compassion/heart) is needed to hear and reflect a person’s unspoken emotions as well as underlying values.

 

Here’s a quick example:

 

Client: “It is way too stressful right now for me to make this change.”

 

Now you have three choices:

Reflect the spoken content (simple reflection)

Reflect your sense of what the person might be thinking or feeling (complex reflection)

Go for the underlying values/beliiefs as you understand them (complex relfection)

 

It goes without saying that this is offered in the spirit of Motivational Interviewing: Partnership, acceptance, compassion and evocation. You might be on target or not quite accurate, but in the end your reflective response – especially complex reflections – will forward the conversation (and exploration) in an affirming and supportive way.

 

 

5 comments
  1. wjwayne said:

    I will miss the iceberg, but I will use the latte in its place! a tasty metaphor to hold in mind and share with others. thanks for putting this together and sharing it!

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