Conversation is fast. Two or more parties reacting to each others words every few seconds. Simultaneously, thoughts & feelings are flying through our minds as well making it even more difficult given the distractions in our mind.
We often make the mistake thinking that our spoken words always convey perfect clarity. Regardless of time of day, content, context, or the person we are conversing with. In our minds, things appear quite clear. Where the variable is how much did the other person understand of what we shared? How accurate are the words and descriptions we use when sharing our mind’s thoughts?
Most disturbing is that the same can be asked of us when someone else is talking. Yet this question of “how much do I understand from the conversation of another person?” never crosses our mind. Partly so because conversation is so fast. While believing we know exactly what we hear every time.
A good tool to help with this type of problem is confirming to another person what you see and heard them say. Validate what you hear by repeating the other person’s thoughts in your own words asking if you understand clearly what they are sharing.
Active listening demands we use this tool. What is not made explicit is that our conversations create a two sided problem. Where each participant needs to not only share their thoughts in words but then each needs to check to see if they were received properly. For both parties most likely will miss some words of explanation or context in the sentences and thoughts they share.
Not with every sentence. But certainly with a conversation when you feel you are sharing something of importance. Clarity may be needed around context, nuance, or even the “why” you are sharing. Going through this technique of confirmation gives both parties an opportunity to increase their presence in each others life.
Not only creating clarity in the receiver’s mind but more importantly in your own mind when hearing others play back to you what they understood from the imperfect words you share. While developing a deeper relationship along the way.