It’s Up To You!
Yes, both understanding and being understood are up to you!
If you are the listener in a conversation, it is your responsibility to verify that you have understood what the speaker has said. Depending upon the importance of the topic, you may need to paraphrase to be sure you understand the meaning the speaker intends. But don’t just parrot back the words you’ve heard. That can be annoying, regardless of what NLP tells us about building rapport. Rephrase what you’ve heard in your own words.
If you didn’t get a “yes” to indicate you’ve gotten the other person’s point, you may have to ask clarifying questions to determine his or her meaning or point of view.
Keep clarifying until the speaker agrees that you’ve correctly interpreted his or her meaning.
If you are the speaker, it’s also your responsibility to verify that you’ve been clear. Check for understanding by asking if you’ve explained something adequately. Repress the urge to ask, “Do you understand?” Your questions should be about your own delivery or clarity—about your own part of the conversation, which is the only part that you can control.
How much more shared meaning and how many more effective relationships would we have in the world if each of us took responsibility for both sides of our conversations?
By the way, if I need to articulate any of this more clearly, please let me know!