Our textbook talks about two concepts of perception checking. The first appears in chapter 2, in which the focus is on accuracy of perception. The textbook gives you a 3-stage process:
- State the behavior/restate the message
- Ask if another person notices the same behavior/words
- Offer alternate interpretations of the message
In the listening chapter (chapter 3), however, we talk about 3 ways to enhance your understanding of messages you hear. Mostly, it may be helpful to explore these as an extension of part 2 stated above. Rather than simply asking if someone else sees the same thing, ask questions to clarify the message. Check with the other recipients or the sender to clarify the intention. You may even ask, “Do I understand correctly that…?”
Second, you can paraphrase the message. When we paraphrase, we restate the message in our own words, but do not alter the meaning of the word in any way. This last part is key: we cannot change the message, but must offer what we understood to be true of the message, it’s essence. You may even say, “What I heard you say just now is…”
Finally, we can offer interpretations. This seems like another way to paraphrase, I know, but it’s different. We go a step further. This may be the point when we ask, “When you say…, do you mean…?” This allows us to ensure that what we “got” from the message is what the speaker really intends; sometimes, it isn’t, and they offer a new approach or phrasing.
Yes, these may be foreign at first, and it takes practice to get used to it. But I promise that this skill, especially in those areas where you are most concerned about getting information correct, is helpful to the communication process. It will improve your relationships if you work to be more effective in communication.