Stop the Cycle of Ambiguity—Use Plain Talk
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We’re having a crisis of ambiguity in organizations, and it’s costing billions, inserting unnecessary risk, and draining productivity.
The cure? Clarity.
Clarity creates an environment in which people can perform at their best.
8 practices that produce clarity:
Declare intent. Be clear about what you are trying to communicate. Think about what you want the recipient to learn, decide, or do.
Know thy audience. Clarity is in the eye of the beholder. Think about who you are talking to and why. What foundational knowledge do they already have? What “state” are they in when you deliver the message?
Timing is everything. Are they busy or distracted? Savvy communicators are particularly strategic, especially about when to have difficult conversations.
Be honest. Show people the respect they deserve by leveling with them.
Choose words wisely. The use of acronyms, esoteric terms, business jargon, and elitist language increases the distance between you and listeners and creates ambiguity.
Ambiguous language erodes trust.
Answer questions. If you’re asked a yes-or-no question, honor the questioner by responding in the simplest way. If a simple answer warrants details or contextual clarification, provide it after you have answered the question.
Watch your tone. Your tone affects the recipient’s ability to receive your message. If you don’t keep your cool, why should anyone else?
Be precise. Avoid fuzzy words like:
- A lot
Operating with clarity builds confidence for peak performance.
How might leaders create greater clarity in organizations?
Karen Martin, president of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc., is a leading authority on business performance and Lean management. Her latest book, Clarity First, is her most provocative to date. It diagnoses the ubiquitous business management and leadership problems that a lack of clarity produces, and outlines specific actions to dramatically improve organizational and individual performance.