Active Listening

Active Listening

The Listen, Reflect, Question (LRQ) technique


  • Understand your interlocutor better
  • Develop your empathy
  • Build trusting relationships


The E.R.I. technique (Listen, Reformulate, Question) is strongly inspired by active listening, a concept developed from the work of the American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987).  It aims to :

  • Encourage constructive exchanges

o by opening up a space for dialogue and co-construction, where you can more easily put forward your ideas

o by facilitating your expression - and your assertiveness - in meetings (including outside your area of expertise), in a way that will advance the discussion.

  • Calming open or latent conflicts

o When faced with someone who is aggressive and/or repeats their problem.

o In a meeting, by checking whether there is a real latent problem before reframing the exchange ("This is not on the agenda, we'll talk about it at the end", etc.)

The issue

In an interview or meeting, you are either the sender or the receiver. However, it is not enough to speak to be understood, because the loss and distortion of the message transmitted are high...

Furthermore, as "two monologues do not make a dialogue" (Jeff Daly), how can we avoid exchanges being juxtapositions of monologues? How can we avoid the frustration of some people who have not been heard? How can we avoid decisions taken in a meeting being poorly implemented, due to a poor initial listening/understanding?


Active listening is about having the right attitude and using the 3-step technique of E.R.I.

  1. Attitude

The best communicators use active listening: hearing is not enough, they want to understand. This implies:

  • Really trying to learn from the conversation, instead of letting the person speak:

o waiting for their turn

o or preparing a response...

  • Setting a sufficiently positive and benevolent intention so that it is translated into non-verbal (encouraging smile, neutral or welcoming gestures) and para-verbal (intonations expressing the search for a solution and not reproaches).

2. The 3 steps of the E.R.I. technique

Listen to
Really listen to the other person and try to understand the difficulties they are facing
This step is essential because it will allow you to : - show your interlocutor that he or she has been heard and that his or her problem will be taken into account (mentally preparing him or her to move on to the next stage) - validate with them that you are talking about the same thing - occasionally, make them aware that they have missed the point (by focusing on the latest element) "If I understand correctly, the problem is... "If I understand the position of each of the parties involved, it is on the one hand ... , and on the other hand ...
Questioning can serve several purposes: - Ask for validation - Digging deeper into the subject, probing with questions - Asking for proposals for solutions - Propose possible solutions by asking whether this would meet the expectations of the person(s) you are talking to. Encourage open questions, introduced by : - What, What (What is what)? - How? Or rebound questions: - Can you expand on your point of view? Avoid : - questions starting with Why (prefer: "In what way....?", "What is ...?") - disguised judgements

In the event of a conflict situation, each response from your interlocutor must be reformulated by you for validation.

3. Examples of exercises

Practice ERI :

  • during the appraisal interview of your employees, to open up a space to express their review of the year, their difficulties, their expectations...
  • with a disgruntled client (including an internal client!)
  • when you feel that you don't agree with your manager ☺, or with what is said in a meeting
  • in a meeting, when you see two different positions emerge

And it works in the personal sphere too...