One of the biggest problems I see in business (and in life) is ambiguity—the lack of clarity in communication. The lack of clear direction.
Ambiguity leads to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Instructions that are less than clear and expectations that are fuzzy and, as a result, generally unattainable. The amount of time that is lost by going over work that has already been completed and found to be lacking or inadequate is incalculable. Work that failed to do that which it was meant to accomplish simply because of a lack of clear direction, instruction, or expectations.
The kind of ambiguity that results in conversations that begin with, “That’s not what I wanted…” And continue with, “But that’s what I thought you asked for…”
In the absence of clear, concise communication, the subconscious will fill in the empty spaces by creating a set of assumptions believed to be appropriate. Assumptions that presume your wants, needs, and expectations are both known and understood. The obvious question is, how could they if you haven’t those wants, needs, or expectations crystal clear!
How can you be sure your communications are pristine? Clear beyond confusion? How do you ensure that whoever has been tasked with those responsibilities really understands? You can start by having them explain it back to you— in their own words. You can start with them telling you what you want, along with an idea of how they plan to execute. It doesn’t have to be a finished plan. Just enough data—enough information—to let you know they know what it is that needs to be accomplished.
A Two-Way Street
But this street runs in both directions. It is communication that must be bi-directional. It is just as critical for them—whoever they are—to feel secure enough to let you know when they don’t understand. When the communication isn’t clear, and they don’t get it.
To a large degree, success in any organization is all about the absence of ambiguity. The problem is that clear, concise, pristine communication is anything but natural. At least, not for most of us!
You must learn and practice that level of communication. And that kind of practice begins with frank, honest communication between individuals and with team members. Most of us believe that everyone we encounter knows what it is we want because it is so clear to us. But by failing to communicate—to be sure we understand and have achieved understanding—we almost ensure failure. If nothing else, we increase the odds against success.
The only thing worse than poor communication is no communication at all!