In previous posts, we examined five communication best practices to implement, as well as how to avoid communication problems in the workplace. This week, we’ll take a look at a few simple questions to use in order to clarify meaning and avoid communication problems.
While sharing five communication best practices to implement, I recommended that one of those practices be clarifying the topic. I received several questions asking:
How exactly do I do that?
The simplest answer is to utilize coaching question techniques to clarify the topic. But if you’ve never attended a coaching seminar or training, how do you know what that looks like and the types of questions you should ask?
Here are examples of clarifying questions you can ask to ensure that you understand what the other person is saying, asking, or requesting:
I’m not sure I understand; can you explain a little more?
If I’m understanding correctly, you’re talking about _______?
What I’m hearing you say is that _______. Does that sum it up?
I want to make sure I’m responding to what you’re saying. Is this an accurate summary? <insert summary>
These can be asked during an in-person conversation or a-synchronously such as in a forum, on social media or via email.
As I discussed in my blog about how to avoid communication problems in the workplace, clarifying questions are so critical. That’s why they’re a key component of communication best practices. Will asking for this type of clarification lengthen a conversation by several minutes? Absolutely. But these few extra minutes will save you time by avoiding miscommunications that lead to extra work and backtracking to clean up messes. Even more importantly, you can also avoid tarnishing your reputation.
Want more advice about how to communicate in order to increase your efficiency? Take a peek at The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.