“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, ‘What else could this mean?'” ― Shannon L. Alder
“Perception checking” is an easy way to deepen your understanding during business interactions.
Have you ever heard something in a conversation that turned out to be different from what the speaker intended? Maybe they misspoke, maybe you misheard, or maybe the words they used meant different things to the two of you. These things happen.
But they happen a lot less if you know how to use a simple technique called perception checking. Today we’re going to show you how to do it, and list five awesome benefits you’ll gain when you do.
How to use perception checking
In our post, Are You Really Hearing Your Clients?, we talk about listening for content, tone, feeling, and deeper meaning to really hear the person you’re speaking with. The next step is perception checking, which reflects back your understanding of what’s being said.
Here’s how it works:
- Listen to the person speaking
- After they’ve made a point, say something like, “I want to be sure that I heard what you’re saying.”
- Repeat their point back to them and ask, “Is that accurate?”
- Listen to their response
Sound simple? That’s because it is. But doing this will enhance clarity in all of your business interactions.
Being present and listening allows you to focus on what the other person is saying. This also sends the message that your intention is to respect and understand them. When there’s a pause in the conversation, take the opportunity to check in. The person will either affirm that you’re correct, or explain further. Either way, you have a clearer understanding and can respond accordingly.
5 ways perception checking benefits your business
1. Hear it right the first time
Perception checking improves your comprehension. Whatever the other person shares with you, when you use perception checking you’ll automatically minimize misunderstandings and misinterpretations. It also prevents you from making inaccurate assumptions.
2. Strengthen relationships
Regardless of the nature of your business, perception checking cultivates trust. To put it bluntly, when people feel heard, they feel loved.
When building a relationship with your clients, perception checking improves your listening ability, which in turn deepens the connection. People feel you care because you’re checking in to make sure you understand them.
3. Reach decisions faster
Building your communication skills with perception checking expedites the process of coming to an agreement. Whether you’re talking about a contract, a business partnership, or offering services, everyone needs to be on the same page. If you’re having issues with an employee or partner, perception checking facilitates resolution.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but taking the time to understand what’s being said provides insight and clarity. And that results in faster decision making. It’s like pouring the foundation for a house before you go and build the structure.
4. Agree to disagree
As you practice perception checking, you build the awareness that you don’t have to agree in order to reach an understanding. Everyone sees through the lens of their own experience, and there’s no law saying we have to see things the same way. This understanding gives us the ability to create solutions without seeing things as “right” or “wrong.”
For example, let’s say you have an employee that’s late to work all week. Instead of just telling them to “get their act together”—what if you take the time to hear their perspective? Of course it won’t change the fact that they need to be on time. But understanding what’s going on may open up an opportunity to support them.
5. Improves clarity—on both sides of the table
Perception checking supports the other person in clearly expressing their ideas to you. As you listen and ask questions, they can articulate back to you exactly what they want to say.
The overall win is that when you listen and perception check, your relationships flourish—both in your business and beyond. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Please share any insights about your communication practices.