Try Using Reverse Paraphrasing

“Reverse paraphrasing” is a technique reps can use to make sure they’ve been understood. Instead of paraphrasing what the customer has said, ask the customer to paraphrase something you have said.

Nance Guilmartin, author of The Power of Pause, recommends using this technique when you are passing along important information or instructions, or if you think your meaning may be misunderstood.

Reverse paraphrasing will sound like this: “We’ve covered a lot of ground and I just want to be sure that I’ve been clear and haven’t missed something important. Could you just tell me your understanding of the key points, in case I wasn’t clear or left something out?”

You are not asking the customer to repeat your words exactly. “And reverse paraphrasing isn’t a test of whether someone was listening,” Guilmartin says. “It’s a way to confirm the customer’s understanding of what you meant, not what you said.”

More practical tips for service professionals appear in the May issue of Customer Communicator newsletter.

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