Two women talking together


Could you imagine more? effective workflow colleagues between? To strengthen it common understanding about procedures and agreements? And at the same time achieve a better feeling for what is moving for those you work with? There are three things in total. How could that be possible? The answer is: recapitulation.

Recapitulation is one of many methods that collectively can be called need-based communication. The methods have been used in USA, where they have had a great impact in many organizations, from smaller institutions to large companies. In this article you can read about a simple exercise, you can try your work to increase your and the group's effectiveness.

What is recapitulation?

To recapitulate is really "to repeat the headlines". This means mentioning the main points of a conversation, a question, a statement or a decision. Recapitulation is a form of observation where you soberly and without taking a position on what is said reproduce the essence of what you have heard. Recapitulation is extremely effective in the meeting leader's toolbox and can also be used in any conversation.

Why recapitulate?

Recapitulation promotes contact between people and supports clarity, accuracy and shared understanding. It creates flow in the conversation, helps to include other people's input, and can reduce any conflicts or misunderstandings when the situation is heated. We all have a need to be heard and we are in doubt whether we have been heard and understood there is a risk of conflict uptake. Recapitulation is a concrete way of showing that we have heard the other party and check if we have understood her correctly.

In conversation with a person who repeats himself or uses many words, recapitulation helps the other to get to the essence. If the conversation is on the way beyond a key, recapitulation brings it back to the track. If there are many different threads in a dialogue, recapitulation can create an overview and direction.

Key Recapitulation Items:

  • When you recapitulate, use the I form, for example: "Here is what I heard you say ..." or "What I understand from what you say is ..."
  • Summarize the key points you have heard and render them free of your own opinion, reaction or response. Do not change what the other said, but put it into a few sentences, as you think, the person would like to hear. Remember, you can comment or respond later.
  • Ask for confirmation that you have heard the person fully and accurately: "Is that correctly understood?" “Did I get it all?” or "Did I miss something?"
  • Make it clear when you switch from recapitulation to comment: "I would like to comment on what you said. Do you want to hear it now ??

How to practice recapitulation

You can practice it from two different angles: Asking your counterparty for a call to recapitulate, or to offer recapitulation.

To ask the other to recapitulate what you have said

Let the other person know why you are asking him to recapitulate, telling you what need it would meet for you:

  • I'm not sure I've expressed myself clearly. Do you want to tell me what you heard me say so I can check if my point of view came through?
  • I would like to be sure that we have the same understanding of this. Can you tell me how you understand what I just said?
  • There was a lot of information you came with, and I do not think I got it all. Do you want to repeat your main points?

To offer recapitulation

Let the other person know why you offer to recapitulate, telling you what needs it would meet for you:

  • I notice that I hear you say the same several times. Can I tell you what I've heard so you can see if I've understood it?
  • There was a lot of information you came with, and I want to make sure I understand correctly. May I repeat the main points as I heard them?
  • It sounds like there are more threads in the conversation. I want to be sure to get it all, so I would like to mention the main points I've heard so far

Simple and powerful

Recapitulation as a tool may seem simple. But it's actually a really powerful way to increase both the human contact and the effectiveness of a conversation. Efficiency understood as the best possible use of the resources available.

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