Learning By Just Sitting

I sit in my little cubicle desk right outside two of the most important offices for our department. I see people go in and out of their offices all day. Sometimes I can over hear the discussions. One of these ladies is a little louder and usually most of her meetings are in her office, so naturally I overhear her the most. I realized one day that there were probably three key phrases she would use over and over again.

“So, this is what I understand…”

“I understand.”

“I don’t know.”

These are just common sentences. I thought it was just one of those personality traits people have when they have their own “catch phrases”. I thought she just said that a lot and would kind of giggle when I heard her repeat them over and over in the same conversation.

Then one day it just clicked, she wasn’t just blabbing those words out of habit… she was using each of them for a purpose. She used them as communication tools to make sure she got everything she needed out of her meetings.


“So, this is what I understand…”

After I figured this little trick out the rest made sense. This sentence was the key to every meeting, crucial in some.

I think it is best for me to explain through an example…

One day there was a meeting with her (we’ll call her Lori) and another women (we’ll call her Samantha). They were having a discussion on how to explain the budget, going from last year into this new year. Samantha had been going on for some time explaining the work she had done on the budget. At the end of Samantha’s explanation, Lori came right back at her with “So, this is what I understand…” and continued on to explain it back to Samantha. She did not repeat it back verbatim, but rather she said the key bullet points she needed to understand where to move next.

So, this is what I understand…”  is something I’m going to start adapting into my work conversations. It is a perfect way to clarify you have the key information you need. And gives the other person a chance to see what parts you don’t understand.


“I understand”

These simple two little words are a great way to end the discussion on one point. After the “So, this is what I understand…” and further explanations a meeting should come to this point. Here you can say you fully understand what they are saying and you can move on to the solution.


“I don’t know”

This little gem is something I actually really admire when I hear Lori say this. Lori is fully aware of her talents and capabilities. She by no way tries to pretend she is more than what she is. Being very self aware gives her the confidence to tell someone who has come to her that she does not know. She’s human, she can’t be expected to be perfect and know everything. There are just some things we may not know in life. Lori respects that and embraces it. She makes it a part of who she is so instead of “I don’t know” being a problem, it is a step towards searching for the answer. If she does not know something then she finds the way to find out.

I’m sure there are lots of different little phrases I haven’t picked up on yet, but this is something to dwell on for the time being.

How do you communicate with others? Are you sure all your points are getting across? Are you sure you fully understand what people are trying to tell you?

I will definitely be actively thinking about the words I choose to communicate a lot more while at work. I encourage you to do the same and to please share any advice you observe from the office.


2 thoughts on “Learning By Just Sitting

  1. “So this is what I understand…” is a heavily used tactic at my company. I love it. I think it helps everyone stay on the same page. If you misunderstand something, it’s made clear during that meeting, so there is less error afterward! Brilliant!

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