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Reduce misunderstanding November 8, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting requests completed, Management Principle.
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p5130012.jpg  Do people frequently misunderstand you? Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “That is not want I wanted?” With all that we have to do, we do not take the time to make sure we are understood. We usually end our communication with one of these two questions:

  1. Do you have any questions? (They reply ‘No”.)
  2. Do you understand what I need? (They reply “Yes”.)


Once we hear one of these responses, we go blithely on our way thinking they actually understood us! The Big Dogz know that these two questions are dangerous and the answers they provide leave us vulnerable to disappointment.  The Big Dogz ask a different question. They ask for a paraphrase!


We frequently don’t ask for a paraphrase because we are in a hurry and do not have the time. On the other hand, perhaps we think the other person may be insulted by us asking for a paraphrase. Sometimes we believe we were so clear, it would be impossible to misunderstand what we said. All these reasons are just excuses. Asking for a paraphrase doesn’t cause any of these things. In fact, it reduces the probability of misunderstanding.


Here are some effective phrases you can use to get a paraphrase when you are finished communicating:

  1. Please describe to me what you think I said.
  2. What have I asked you to do?
  3. I am working on my communications skills and want to be sure that I told you everything you need to know. Can you please tell me what you heard?
  4. This information is critical and we need to be sure I communicated everything about it. Please tell me what you heard.
  5. I think I may have left something out, but I am not sure. Can you summarize what you heard?


You will be amazed at the results you get! It is possible they have no clue what you said. It may be that they got 90% of what you said. An even more surprising result would be that they actually understood what you said. Now, this is the result you are after.


Asking for a paraphrase may cause surprise in some people, especially if you haven’t done it before. If you want to check this out for yourself, check how many times you see people not asking for a paraphrase in key communication situations. Asking for a paraphrase is what distinguishes the Big Dogz from the rest of the pack.


Once you make it a practice to ask for a paraphrase, people will automatically give you one because they know you will ask for it. Asking for a paraphrase does take more time, but it is a wise investment. It helps to build solid relationships and insures that you get the result you asked for.

If you asked people to paraphrase everything you said, it would get annoying. So here are 5 situations when it is imperative for you to ask for that paraphrase:

  1. You are explaining a complex issue
  2. You are asking someone to do a task for you
  3. The results are critical
  4. You make a commitment to someone
  5. You will not be available for follow up questions


Asking for a paraphrase will take some getting used to. Experiment with this technique over the next thirty days to see if using it gets you running with the Big Dogz.  Send me an email to let me know how it works for you: rbronder@gmail.com


Getting requests completed December 10, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting requests completed, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Getting results! How many times do we make requests of others and they do not respond. They agree to do what we ask, but there is no action. The Big Dogz know how to get people to keep their commitments by using a three step process. Here it is: 

1. Make your request with a benefit identified In my previous post on the action principle, https://growingmybusiness.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/105/ , I addressed how to get someone motivated to do something you want. First you frame the request around something important to them. Most people will agree to do something if you show them the personal benefit of doing it. When they do what you have asked, thank them and you are done. If they have not done what you asked, go to step 2. 

2. Reiterate your request and include an offer to help. When you have not seen the results you requested, it may be because the person does not have the resources, knowledge or time to do what you ask. In some cases they may just have forgotten you asked them to do it. The Big Dogz know that people are not just ignoring you, they may need some help. Approach the person and remind them of the previous discussion and their commitment to you. Ask them if there is some way you can help them to do what you ask. This help could be a reminder, some resource, the time to do it or just an explanation of how it is done. Be sincere in your offer of help. Provide whatever help you commit to provide and when they do what you have asked, thank them. If they still have not done what you ask, then move onto step 3. 

3. Reiterate the request and identify the consequences. Again, you have not gotten the result you wanted. Meet with the person again and identify the consequences of them not doing what you ask. In providing consequences, it is important to remember that you must be willing and able to carryout the consequences. Too frequently we identify consequences that are considered idle threats or consequence not appropriate for the lack of action. Prior to having this discussion, rationally develop the consequences rather than reacting during this meeting. Most likely this person will have a set of excuses that will possible upset you. Listen to them, but be firm in identifying the consequences. When they do what you have asked, thank them. If they do not do what you have asked, apply the consequences. You may need to do this step, each time escalating the consequences, until you get what you have asked.  

By following this simple three step process consistently, you will send a strong message to people that commitments to you are taken seriously. You will even find that when you use step one to make your request, people will immediately respond with what assistance they need to fulfill your request.

Experiment with this process over the next thirty days and start getting a higher rate of success with your requests being completed.