Meeting misunderstandings target training

Meeting misunderstandings: 4 Steps to Clarify

Do you ever have to deal with meeting misunderstandings?
So, you’ve just finished putting forward your proposal. You’d planned out what you wanted to say, given a few examples, convincingly described the advantages, and cautiously addressed the disadvantages. All extremely clearly. Or so you thought. Until you hear the first response:

“So, are you saying that you think we should XXX?”
What you want to say is “No, no, no. We should YYY. Weren’t you listening? Can’t you read?”

Obviously you can’t say that. Here are some phrases that could help you in this kind of situation.

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4 Steps to clarify meeting misunderstandings

Step 1: Answer the question/comment
  • Not exactly.
  • Not quite.
  • That’s interesting.
Step 2: Rephrase your arguement
  • What I was trying to say was…
  • What I wanted to suggest was….
  • The point I intended to make was..
Step 3: Find a quick way of summarizing your argument again
  • Let me show you this slide again. Here you can see the outline of the proposal.
  • The three key issues were….
  • Basically, we should…
Step 4: Check that the misunderstanding has been cleared up
  • Is that clear now?
  • I hope that helps.
  • Is there anything else you’d like clarifying?

An example of dealing with meeting misunderstandings

A: So, are you trying to say that we should XXX?
B: Not exactly. What I wanted to say was that we really need to take a close look at YYY. If you look at this slide here, you can see the three main reasons why. Does that help?

Following these 4 quick and easy steps, and using the phrases above, will help you have clearer communication in your meetings.  By alleviating your meeting misunderstandings, you will have faster, more productive meetings and save everyone time.  Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.


2 replies
  1. Gerhard
    Gerhard says:

    I find point zero should be to get aware of your feelings first. If you feel a bit hurt by the misunderstandings or feel that others should understand you anyway, it’s good to notice those feelings and take a breath. Mostly the feelings have nothing to do with the situation. Then you can proceed to point 1.

  2. Jennie Wright
    Jennie Wright says:

    Some good points to follow Kate. It’s easy to get flustered when someone hasn’t understood what you’ve been saying (possibly for 10, 20, or even 30 mins).

    This happens to me and it’s easy to forget the four steps above. I often remind myself to take a breath before I respond – does anyone else do this? I think it’s sometimes called taking a “balcony moment”.

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