Summarizing Skills
Throughout the process of counseling, it is important to periodically summarize
the individual’s position. This helps establish agreement on the principal points
of interaction, determine where the individual is at present, and verify whether o
not you clearly understand the position. Summarizing also helps individuals
redirect their energies and behaviors—focusing them to move and change. You
can use these skills to progress with the individual toward problem definition an
clarification. These are the basic requirements that help us develop preferred and
new behaviors. And these new behaviors are identified by the setting of fresh
goals and how they might be achieved. So you can see that summarizing is an
integral part of the counseling process and is essential for the management of ou
personal and working lives.
Handouts 44.1, 44.2, and 44.3 for each participant
IME 45 to 60 minutes
ROUP SIZE Suitable for groups of 6 to 12 people; total number needs to be
divisible by 3
ETHOD 1. Divide participants into groups of three and distribute a copy
of Handout 44.1 to each participant.
2. Explain to the participants that they will conduct role plays
in their groups of three, using Handout 44.1.
There are three roles in each group: that of listener,
speaker, and observer.
Each listener should spend about 8 to 10 minutes counsel-
ing the speaker. The speaker should continue to explore
one of his/her own problem areas or one that he/she has
chosen to deal with in the session or previously identified
in the group.
At the end of 5 minutes, the listener summarizes the prin-
cipal points of their interaction. The listener should try to
make the summary precise and concise. Keep in mind that
it is meant to help the person move toward the kind of
detailed problem clarification that is needed for goal
setting and establishing preferred and new behaviors.
50 Activities for Developing Counseling Skills in Managers
Listeners should help the speakers draw on past interac-
tions. This is particularly helpful if they have worked in a
counseling context with the individual on previous occasions.
At the end of about 10 minutes, listeners should produce a
second summary that should encapsulate the first summary.
At the end of each summary, the employee is asked to
draw some kind of implication or conclusion from it; that
is, the individual is asked to take the next step. For example:
Is this how you see the situation?
What does this suggest to you about where you might
go from here?
The counseling interaction is then stopped, and both the
observer and employee give feedback to the listener. The
feedback should be focused on the accuracy and helpful-
ness of the listener’s summary. As a general rule, the
summaries are helpful if they move, or help to move, an
employee forward in the counseling process, and this can
be identified when the person
suggests new possibilities or desires;
begins to talk about a new goal;
begins to talk about a change in behavior, thinking,
and feeling, and how this might be achieved;
may have identified an end goal and seen it as it
might affect the company and its performance; or
starts to talk about a specific problem and what
he/she might do about it.
3. Repeat the process until each person in the group has had the
opportunity to play all three roles.
4. Distribute Handouts 44.2 and 44.3. Handout 44.2 gives an
example of summarizing, and Handout 44.3 lists the benefits of
using summarizing skills.
5. End by summarizing the whole activity and sharing that
summary with the participant. Use it as a basis for future action.
Summarizing Skills
6. Feedback/summary: Give feedback of the views of the par-
ticipants and their conclusions about summarizing skills. The
main values of summarizing skills should be emphasized again
and how they complement the counseling process. Point out the
importance of participants practicing summarizing skills in their
organization and with people and how they help unblock the
individual’s resources for adaptation, satisfaction, and personal
Make sure that the participants understand the potential of using
summarizing skills and how these may be built into role play
situations for their own personal development. Finally, invite
the participants to be more specific about how they might use
summarizing skills and how they can see themselves or others
using these with individuals in their company context and
organizational settings.

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