Every conversation gets better with LSD; Listening, Summarising and Deep Questioning. These are basic ingredients to communicate well. All three are equally important, however we tend to forget Summarising. A missed opportunity. By summarising, you get to:
Check whether you are truly understood
This is one of the most important aspects of summarising. By not doing this, or too little, there is a chance you might not be on the same page as the other person. You might be talking about a different topic or goal without being aware. So: summarising allows you to prevent miscommunication. It’s easily done by using this one sentence: ‘so if I get it right ….. is that correct?’.
Show that you have really listened
This is a great benefit of summarising. Even if you don’t get it completely right, you show the effort of truly trying to understand your conversational partner. This is often rewarded with more openness and sympathy towards you.
Structure the conversation
Even though we try to listen as well as we can, we are often presented with too much information to take it all in. Apart from that, it can be quite hard to filter key issues within the conversation. What is the most important message you want the other person to get? By interrupting the flow of information and contemplating on what has been said, your recap will allow you to highlight key issues. This is a way to ensure that topic and/or the aim of the conversation will remain on track.
Steer the conversation
By offering structure to the conversation you will have control over it. But you can take it to the next level by purposely steering. Using a summary, you can emphasize issues that are most important to you, get confirmation and build on that. It also allows you to enter a new topic into the discussion. Please be aware not to put words in the other persons mouth; it will be noticed straight away and might backfire.
Give yourself some time
It can be hard to respond to the other person instantly. Especially when he or she speaks rapidly and gives you a lot of information. By allowing a break in the conversation, it will slow that down but it won’t work if the other person takes this moment to take over and tell you even more. Summarising gives you the opportunity to think about your respons whilst still being the one taking the lead.
Try to make a conscious summary during your next conversation. You will experience that it will smoothen your meeting and that you will actually reach an agreement easier!