Clarifying Your Message: Three Steps to Effective Communication

Clarifying Your Message

I didn’t understand, based on the words that were said. ~ Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion

One of the most common communication mistakes we make, and the easiest to fix, is how to better clarify what we mean to say.

More often than not, when we communicate, the person we are talking to will not  really understand what you are trying to say. Or maybe they weren’t really listening.  Then they they don’t ask questions to make sure they understand. The result can be misunderstandings, hurt feelings, unanswered requests, and even damaged relationships. 

You can increase the understanding by learning three simple steps.

1) Summarize

The first step to getting your message heard is to summarize the major points of the communication. People don’t generally ask for clarification when they are communicating. So, it it your job, to follow up directly after the communication happens. 

Simply asking: “Do you understand?” is not enough. The answer will inevitably come back: “yes”, which often means “not really”. 

You must go back over the major points you are trying to get across say saying something like, “so just to summarize what we talked about….  1) I will be getting the dogs from the kennel, 2) You will be getting the groceries, and 3) We will meet at the house for dinner at 6.”  Or, try: so “Let’s go back over what we agreed on…..” and detail the specifics.

2) Document in Writing

When being understood is especially important, after summarizing, follow-up with a written summary of the communication.  For meetings, notes should be written up with specific assignments and deadlines, and sent as soon as the communication is finished.

If something needs to happen, write it down. Include what needs follow up and by when.

3) Follow Up

Once you’ve documented the follow up – make sure you actually do it!

Did you make a plan or ask for something to happen? Did you agree to something? Check back to make sure the message of the communication really was clear and carried out — before it’s too late to make adjustments.

Make Clarifying and Confirming a Habit

If you consciously use these three steps, they will soon begin to become a habit – one that will increase your chances of effective communication on a regular basis.


Stay Connected

Please join my free, private FB group to learn more and connect with women supporting women here: Confident Communication for Women

If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me. I’m more than happy to chat with you about your own communication struggles and victories.


Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.


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