Binding and Freeing Responses
By Boyan and Copeland
Freeing responses are those responses from the listener that tend to make the speaker talk more freely, provide more information, and give the listener more insight. The major types of Freeing Responses are:
Clarifying questions: Asking questions designed to help understand what the other person is saying. This approach communicates that “Your ideas are valuable and I want to understand them.”
Paraphrasing: Restating what the other person said to check for accuracy of understanding. “I hear you saying…”
Perception checking: Stating to the other person what you think is going on. “I have the impression that you would prefer a different approach. Am I right?” This type of statement frees up the atmosphere because it allows the other person to disagree.
Offering information: Offering factual information relevant to the other person’s concerns with no value judgement stated or implied. “There is a book on that topic by Joe Smith. I have a copy in my office if you would like to borrow it.”
Active, attentive listening: This is a nonverbal response. The listener makes eye contact, nods, and in other ways sends the message “I hear what you are saying.”
Extending: Inviting the person to say more, e.g. “Can you say more about that?
Binding Responses tend to have a negative effect on the speaker. After a Binding Response by the listener the speaker is less likely to give a response or extend the conversation. Examples of Binding Responses are:
Changing the subject without explanation:
- Speaker: “I really had a tough day. It was one problem after another.
- Bind Response: “Do you have that report ready that is due today?”
Explaining or interpreting the speaker’s behavior: “When you cross your arms like that you are rejecting what I am saying”
Offering advice: “If I were you I would…”
Trying to persuade: “Wouldn’t it be better if you did it this way?
Giving directions: “The next time that happens, here is what you should do.”
Emphatic agreement: “You are absolutely correct.” or “I couldn’t agree with you more.”
Leveling an expectation: “I know you can do it.” or “This will be easy for someone with your skills.”
Denying the speaker’s feelings: “There is no reason to get upset over a little thing like that.”
Giving commands or orders: “Have this ready by three o’clock tomorrow.” or “This is what I want you to do, and this is how I want you to do it”.