7+ Basic Responding Skills

In this article, we will look at 7+ basic responding skills. This article also explores how empathetic, compassionate, warm, and thoughtful responses are essential in promoting healthy communication.

7+ Basic Responding Skills

The eight basic responding skills are ranked in order of effectiveness from most to least effective:

  • Understanding
  • Clarification
  • Self Disclosure
  • Questioning
  • Information Giving
  • Reassurance
  • Analytical
  • Advice Giving


An understanding and empathetic approach is more likely to foster an environment conducive to open, honest dialogue. It’s a sensitive and understanding response that’s based on feelings. Intense negative feelings might become a communication barrier; this approach can help to alleviate such feelings.

Empathy, or precisely tuning in to what the other person is feeling at the moment, is a form of understanding. It involves going beyond the words and focusing on the emotions.

By reflecting on other people’s feelings, you’re recognising them as individuals who need your attention. In normal people, this type of response can diminish violent feelings. 

It can also be used with those who are overly emotional, weeping, afraid, and so on, to help them get through such feelings or behaviours. A broken connection can be repaired through empathy or understanding.

Following are some examples of understanding responses:

  • I feel like you’re disheartened and wondering what’s the point of it all.
  • I see that you’re furious and outraged, it must be tough for you.
  • Your new assignment has piqued your interest.
  • You appear overjoyed to have been chosen.


The clarification response suggests that you want to understand what the other person is saying or that you want to discover the most important feelings that are surfacing. It means you’re paying attention to what others are saying and double-checking your assumptions. 

This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including repeating the last few words stated, summarising the most important aspects, or paraphrasing.

A time of silence can be beneficial after a response like this. This provides others the opportunity to connect their thoughts or clarify your impression. Clarification responses reaffirm your willingness to see things from the other person’s perspective.

This approach is effective at minimizing hostility. It not only pushes others to clarify, but it also helps to focus the conversation, particularly when followed by silence from your side. 

It allows the others to bring their ideas together and take some responsibility. Another reason for clarification responses is to buy time to come up with a better response.

Clarification responses include:

  • I assume you were able to handle your married life before the birth of your child.
  • You seem to be suggesting that you were happy in California and that you want to return there.
  • Let’s see, you want to get a more difficult job, right?
  • If I understand you correctly, you’re stating you could come up with a better solution.

Self Disclosure

Self–disclosure demonstrates your desire to share information about yourself with others. It involves revealing something about yourself that is specifically linked to the discussion, such as your personal ideas, views, ideals, or a past experience. By reminding others that they are not alone in their experiences or problems, self–disclosure can help to lessen anxiety.

Self-disclosure responses include:

  • The doctor handled us the same way when we had our son!
  • Whenever my parents were arguing, I’ve always believed it was best to keep my lips sealed.
  • I, too, have never felt like anyone embraced me for who I was.
  • Kids used to tease me about my weight and the things I wore when I was younger, so I understand what it’s like to stand out from the crowd.


The question response helps in extracting information, just as it sounds. It gives others the opportunity to elaborate on a topic. Open questions concentrate on the circumstance, ideas, reactions, and feelings of the other person. They have a tendency to encourage conversation. Closed questions elicit yes or no responses and focus on certain facts or elements of the other person’s condition.

Questioning responses include the following:

  • Is it easy for you to get along with your boss? (Closed) 
  • Could you tell me a little bit about your boss? (Open) 
  • What do you think of the new place? (Open) 
  • What features of the new home appeal to you? (Open) 
  • Is this making sense to you? (Closed) 
  • What is it that you are perplexed about? (Open)

Information Giving

Information giving responses include conveying facts objectively and without judgement or evaluation. It gives the other party the option of accepting or rejecting the facts. It permits the other to be in charge of how the information is perceived. This answer can be used to provide positive or negative feedback.

Following are some examples of information-giving responses:

  • This project will take six weeks to complete and has a budget of $850.
  • To establish self–worth, children at all levels require touch and nurturing.
  • The support group is a good place to meet people who are coping with similar issues.


Reassurance responses help to alleviate anxiety, dissipate overwhelming feelings, and communicate self-assurance. They give you a pat on the shoulder, but they also indicate that certain emotions or thoughts are normal or usual. Because it tends to minimize people’s difficulties, this response does not establish a bond.

This category includes cliches. People who find themselves in a situation where they don’t know what to do and what to say and are humiliated frequently utilise reassurance.

Reassurance responses or examples:

  • Don’t be afraid. Others have done it before you, and you will as well.
  • Things may appear to be horrible right now, but they will be OK in the morning.
  • You really aren’t quite fat.
  • Welcome to the “new reality” of life after a disaster.
  • Don’t give up. 
  • Disappointment is a normal occurrence.


The analytical response seeks to analyze, clarify, or evaluate the other person’s actions and feelings. It explains or connects concepts and events outside what the other has expressed. This reaction, unlike clarification, includes something from your own ideas, feelings, beliefs, and so on.

It suggests that you are wise, that you possess more knowledge than the other person. In most cases, the analytical approach elicits resentment from others.

Analytic responses can be seen in the following examples:

  • You’re having such a hard time with him because he reminds you of your father, whom you despise.
  • You frequently show up late to the group because you don’t feel at ease here.
  • Because you perceive her as an authority figure, you are unable to connect with her.
  • You’re lonely because you don’t want to get engaged with other people.

Advice Giving

Advice giving responses are typically unproductive. It suggests that you are aware of the causes of the other person’s problems, as well as what they should, must, or should not do about them. As a result, you’re judging the other’s behaviours for goodness, acceptability, efficacy, or correctness.

Others are being judged by your subjective value system and found to be deficient in some way. This is the act of condemning others for their own issues.

Following are some examples of advice-giving responses:

  • I’d contact him and beg him to bring you something for the kids if I were you. You should consider a divorce since it is the only way to solve your marital issues.
  • Rather than arguing, attempt to understand the other person’s point of view.
  • Things like this shouldn’t be said.


In this article, we looked at 7+ basic responding skills. This article also explored how empathetic, compassionate, warm, and thoughtful responses are essential in promoting healthy communication.

Frequently Asked Questions: 7 Basic Responding Skills

How can I improve my responding skills?

Address inconsistencies and gather facts swiftly and discreetly in order to focus attention on the problems and issues. Make it clear to the other person that you are paying attention and following what they are saying. Use fillers like, Oh I understand, or Um yeah occasionally.

What is the purpose of attending Behaviour in Counselling?

Attending behaviour is a counselling microskill that encourages clients to speak by indicating that the counsellor is paying attention to what they’re saying. When does it come into play? During the whole therapy session. This is particularly true in the early stages of developing rapport.

What is the importance of basic attending skills during the session?

Simple attending skills are critical throughout the session in order to obtain a better understanding of the client’s internal experience of the crisis. The client’s thoughts and emotions about his situation should be the focal point.

How do you show attending skills?

Here is a list of tips to help in showing attending skills:

Make a point of addressing the speaker by name.
Use motivating phrases like “Uh huh,” “Go ahead,” and “I’m listening.”
Slightly lean toward the speaker.
Maintain eye contact that is acceptable.
Show curiosity and concern in your facial expressions.
To express agreement, nod your head.
Avoid distractions as much as possible.

What is attending behavior in counseling?

Any action taken by a person while carefully listening to and watching a speaker, such as making eye contact and adopting an open, engaged posture. Active listening and supportive attending behaviours are deemed to be the main pillars of a therapist’s or counselor’s overall capacity.

What is the difference between directive and nondirective counseling?

When the therapist directs the therapeutic process, it is known as directive therapy. When you provide cognitive behavioural therapy, for instance, you are providing the client guidance for dealing with the problem as well as assisting them in practising particular strategies. On the other hand, the client takes the lead in non-directive counselling.


Improving Responding Communications Skills