Every conversation gets better with a dose of LSD. Listening, summarizing and asking questions are the basic ingredients for good communication. All three ingredients are equally important, but often we do listen and ask questions and forget to summarize in a conversation. This is definitively a missed opportunity. By frequently summarizing our conversations you:
Make sure you understand your conversation partner
This is one of the key benefits of summarizing your conversation. If you don’t summarize and ask for agreement, you can have entire conversations without being on the same page. It’s important to check if you have the same goals and take aways in the conversation. In short; with a summary you can prevent miscommunication. It just takes one sentence; “If I understand correctly…is that right?”
Show the other that you are genuinely interested and a good listener
Even if your summary isn’t fully correct, you are still making an effort to understand your conversation partner better. And that is rewarded by your conversation partner with more openness and sympathy towards you.
Give the conversation some structure
Even if you are areally paying attention, sometimes the amount of information you get is simply a lot to process. Additionally, it may be difficult for yourself to stick to the information that is truly relevant for your conversation partner. By summarizing you pause this information flow, you can reflect on what has been said and sum up the key points of the conversation.
Control the conversation
A summary gives a conversation structure and structure gives you grip on the conversation. You can take it a step further and use a summary as a means to control the conversation. By emphasizing those points that are important to you and getting an agreement on your opinion from the other, you steer the conversation towards your desired outcome.
Buy yourself some time
Sometimes it can be difficult to respond directly to your conversation partner. In particular when he or she speaks quickly and elaborately. When you occasionally take a break, this will lead to a quieter pace in the conversation. A summary gives you an opportunity to think about your response, while you are still the person who is in control.