Sometimes we get a bit lost in our ways when we think about building relationships.
I recently conversed with a friend about he approaches building rapport with people he has just met on a personal and on a professional level. It is very straight forward, however, it is a valuable reminder. As always simple is powerful.
So here is the story and the suggestion:
We all have had the experience when you meet somebody, he or she says something and you do not fully understand what he or she said. You can decide to critique in your mind what they said attempting to understand better or make an assumption but perhaps you will not have the right understanding.
My friend suggests you simple decide to say “I was listening but I am not sure I am not sure I fully understand what you said, can you please share with me again”. Say that or something with the same meaning. Then make sure you are close by the person when he or she repeats what was said so no noise distracts you, stay focused and if it feels right, reflect back to them “I see you said (fill in the blank etc). Then, of course, remember what they said.
When you take the time to do this you are moving away from critique (C1) based on your own perceptions and instead communicating (C2) that you need guidance.
Of course, avoid using this after each sentence or too frequently or you will sound silly and the person will get frustrated.
Typically, but I can’t guarantee always, the person will appreciate your honesty. You are not in their thoughts you may not know what they mean and you do want to misunderstand.
Even in a long term relationship it is important you make no assumptions you understand all the time what your friend, spouse, client or business partner means.
In contrast, you could say nothing assuming you did understand correctly and be wrong, no harm in verifying you where clear on what you wanted to learn.
It is often less stressful to make sure you fully understand what a person says when you are conversing with a person than relying on your own perception. This way you are building a relationship on solid ground.
One of the best books I ever read about being effective in communication and in many other ways is this classic book, if you already read it, maybe give it as a gift, the receiver will, most likely, thank you.
All the best,