I don’t think we need to speak the same language literally. In fact, I value the many different languages that exist across our great world. But, I think too often, we don’t speak the same language figuratively. Sometimes, even when we speak the same literal language, we are talking past each other, and that’s when worse misunderstandings happen than if our actual spoken languages were different.
I’ve learned, particularly over the last few years, the importance of asking clarifying questions throughout a conversation. While in my younger days I used to assume that I was on the same page as the person I was speaking to, I now understand that I can no longer make that assumption; too often I found myself missing an important nuance of what was shared, or simply not recalling details and information that were pertinent to the conversation.
By clarifying details throughout a discussion, it makes it that much easier to make sure that all participants are headed in the right direction, and that current progress and next steps are clearly laid out for all involved. Often, note-taking and sharing helps with this as it is very easy to make corrections and clarify by writing. If one person disagrees with a written comment, it is easier to adjust before notes get shared with a large group or the notes are turned into policy.
The key? By recognizing the importance of taking the time to clarify early, we can make sure that our language is the same, and that all parties hear and understand the same thing. While as a process this work takes longer, it saves much time, energy, and morale on the back end by avoiding potentially difficult situations that can arise from not hearing the same words.