Making Work More Effective: Recapping to Create Shared Reality

Would you like your workplace to run more effectively? Would you like to get on the same page with others and be clear about agreements?

Work Collaboratively shows people in organizations how to work more effectively with both clients and colleagues, and our methods have had a high impact in many organizations, from small non-profits to large corporations. Here is a practice you can try at work to increase your effectiveness via Collaborative Communication: Recapping.

What is Recapping?

Recap is short for recapitulate, literally, “to repeat the headings.” It means to restate the short bullet points of a conversation, question, statement, or decision. Recapping is a key practice in Nonviolent Communication and is a form of observation. In effect, to share what you’ve heard someone say is the most basic and crucial kind of observation.

Why practice Recapping?

Recapping fosters connection and supports clarity, accuracy, and shared understanding; it paces conversation; helps with integration; and it can help de-escalate conflict/misunderstanding, especially when a situation is heated. We all have a need to be heard — recapping is a concrete way to show that we have heard someone.



Key aspects of Recapping

  • Use I statements: “What I’m hearing is…” or “What I heard you say is…”
  • Summarize what you’ve heard using key points free of your opinion, reaction or response—you are a “mirror” of what you hear the person say. Remember that you can comment or respond later.
  • Confirm that you’ve heard the person fully and accurately:  “Is that accurate…” or, “Is that complete?” or, “Did I miss anything…?”

Requesting a Recap

Let the person know why you’re requesting the recap, naming the need it would meet for you:

  • “I’m not sure I’ve made this clear. Could you tell me what you heard me say so I can see if I’ve gotten it across?” (supporting clarity)
  • “This is a lot of information for me, and I want to take it in. Could you repeat it back to me to help me digest it?” (supporting pacing/integration)
  • “I’m wanting to make sure we’re on the same page. Could you tell me what you’re hearing in this?” (supporting accuracy/connection)
Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Offering a Recap

Let the person know why you’re offering the recap, naming the need it would meet for you:

  • “I’m noticing I’m hearing you say things I’ve heard you say before. Can I tell you what I’ve heard so far you can be sure I’ve gotten it?” (supporting accuracy / being heard)
  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I’ve heard so far. Are you OK with my telling you what I’ve heard so far?” (supporting pacing/integration)

Conclusion

Recapping may seem like a simple process yet we find in sharing Nonviolent Communication in organizations that it’s a powerful way to boost connection and efficiency. Work Collaboratively is engaged in ongoing research and evaluation of our long-term organizational trainings, and the initial results are exciting, although not surprising. Recapping is just one out of many skills that we share with teams.

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