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Two People. One Conversation. Did You Both Leave with the Same Understanding?

Categories: Business & Corporate, Blog

make sure they understand

We hear and read a lot about listening fully, i.e. listen to what is being said instead of thinking of what to say next or in response; pay attention. This is easier said than done, which results in many people having a conversation and unknowingly walking away with differing understandings of what was spoken about or agreed to. This can lead to many issues, wasted time and work, and erode trust between the people who were part of the conversation. 

This goes for conversations in person or by telephone. The other person on a call may be driving, surfing the Internet or otherwise not fully listening. Of course the result is the same that differing understandings may result, which then takes time (and money, because time is money, even if it is your personal time) to resolve the resulting issues and (hopefully) to get on the same page. 

To avoid the issues, let alone the time it takes to resolve the issues, you need to trust the other person in the conversation understood what you intended, but verify. That’s right, it is the old cliché “trust, but verify.” The best way to do this is to ask the person you are speaking with to repeat back to you their understanding of what you just said. This will allow you to know they understood you, didn’t understand you or were not listening to you. Hopefully the result is the opportunity to leave the conversation on the same page with no misunderstandings. 

If they cannot tell you what you just said because they weren’t listening to you, well, that is a subject for another day… 

As always, this post and others can be found on my blog, BusinessLawGuy’s Blog.


About the author: Neal H. Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation, workouts and bankruptcy litigation.