I just came out of a challenging two-day group facilitation. The group was diverse and didn’t normally work together. We were trying to develop a complex approach for a complex solution to a complex problem. At one checkpoint in the process the group started re-examining a process they just agreed to 15 minutes prior. I didn’t get it at the time, but one of the participants came up to me after the workshop and clarified. He said, “We got stuck there because we each had a different meaning to the terms we were using. We didn’t have a common language.” Gotcha. Lesson learned.

It was hard work to begin with and then got harder because we didn’t stop to agree on how we were using certain terms. Each of us was assuming we understood because we had our own meaning for the term – inside our head.

So next time you think you have agreement do a verbal check on meaning before you move forward.