Once you have mastered reflective listening, you can move on to “looping”. Looping is related to reflective listening by taking reflective listening one step further. Looping lessens anxiety and is a helpful conflict transformation practice.
When you “loop,” you repeat back in detail what the speaker has said. You ask if you got the content right. If you got the content right, then you ask, “Is there more?” If you did not get the content right, you give the speaker the opportunity to clarify or correct. You repeat that content and ask again, “Did I get it right?” You keep going until the speaker says you have gotten it right.
Looping can be very challenging at first because you have to listen intently to what the speaker is saying. You can ask the speaker to pause so that you can reflect back a smaller chunk of content. As you get better at looping, you will find that it gets easier. Your accuracy gets better. You can reflect back larger chunks of content.
You can also take notes so that you have an outline of what the speaker said. Your notes are private and used only during the conversation. You shred your notes when the conversation is done
A short example of looping:
Speaker: My favorite team lost on Saturday and I am so bummed out. I went to a watch party with my friends and we were hoping to have a good time. We made food and the weather was great, but we didn’t come out with a win.
Listener: You went to a party with your friends. It could’ve been much more fun if your favorite team had won. Is there more?
Speaker: No, not really. The buffalo wings just couldn’t ease the pain of losing by one point with one second left on the clock. But, I am over it by now.
My example above may seem a little silly. Looping is not necessary in all situations. In highly conflicted situations, though, looping effectively lessens anxiety. When we can reduce anxiety, we can reduce conflict to a more tolerable level.