I’ve written about this before (here and here), but it’s so pervasive in my meetings with clients and vendors that I feel compelled to write again!

When someone asks you a question, before you answer it, do two things:

  1. Wait until the person asking the question is completely finished before answering.
  2. Paraphrase the question and repeat it back to the person who asked, to ensure you understand what you’re asking.

Too often in meetings I will listen to two people have a conversation that started with a question that was not understood by the person being asked. The result is a lot of round and round, which is not only a waste of time for everyone, but can also lead the discussion to unnecessary tangents.

So before you answer a question, seek first to understand. It might save you a lot of time and headaches.