Let’s be very clear about clarity

They are all at it - those politician types! They have a wide range of annoying habits to be fair - but this one is right up there on the annoying scale! Fear not, I am not going to veer off into political commentary  - I am however going to draw attention to a thing called clarity... vital in communication but apparently misunderstood by politicians when they say...

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'Let me be very clear...'

No clarity frustration

The feeling when a politician just said 'let me be very clear...'

You just know what is coming next! The opposite of clarity!

Clarity is a key communication requirement - so the stated intention is great. However, we all know that what actually follows on from the immortal words 'let me be very clear' turns out to be very disappointing. What usually follows is less 'clear' and more 'rambling, sound byte, ambiguity.'

Offering this promise of clarity in the same breath as delivering a disappointing, cryptic ramble, demonstrates that 'clear' is no more than a word and empty promise for these trained anti communicators!

Clarity is far too important to be treated with such disrespect.

When it comes to humans communicating in a way that engages and creates shared understanding - clarity is the key. A lack of clarity can have dire negative consequences. Mistakes cost time and money. Misunderstandings create blame and trust issues.

And by the way -

When you are going to communicate with clarity, you should never need to use the preface: 'let me be very clear…'

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How do you communicate with clarity

Whilst I am focusing on human communication in this article, for a brilliant read on all aspects of organisational clarity I suggest reading Karen Martin's 'Clarity First' -

Karen writes clearly  about clarity - and how the lack of it comes at a cost. 

'The individual and collective lack of clarity keeps leaders and organisations of all types and sizes from performing to their fullest potential.'

Whilst I am giving book recommendations, this one should be on your shelf too - 'Clear Leadership' by Gervase R Bushe  - the clue is in the title.

Gervase defines interpersonal clarity as 'an interaction in which people know what their own experience is, what another person's experience is, and the difference between the two.'  

I am sure you don't need convincing that clarity matters  -  but how do we achieve it? 

What does it take to ensure interpersonal clarity?

Clarity creators versus destroyers

When trying to get your point or idea understood and engaged with

Creators

  • Curiosity
  • Intent
  • Honesty
  • Simplicity
  • Clear, engaging voice 

Destroyers

  • Not listening
  • Rambling and dithering
  • Defensive, guarded communication
  • Jargon and buzzwords
  • Mumbling and lacking vocal range

So what next?

This might be a useful list but action is needed. Each of the clarity creators involves a combination of communication tactics and behaviours. to make clarity happen.  Let's look at some of these tactics below.

Curiosity

Ask questions and listen to the answers - including what isn't said. A lot of time can be wasted by failing to seek shared understanding.

Intent

Know what you are trying to achieve  -  the purpose of the communication. Beware of disappearing down rabbit holes.

Honesty

Be open and authentic. Invite, rather than evade questions. Clarity will not survive in a climate of distrust and defensiveness.

Simplicity

Jettison jargon, acronyms and buzzwords Beware the 'curse of knowledge'. Shared understanding is essential

Clear, engaging voice

This is the obvious yet overlooked part of clarity  -  can you be heard and are you seeking to avoid ambiguity and listener boredom? Try recording yourself having a conversation with a friend - listen back and you might be surprised!

I leave you with this beautifully clear statement from Karen Martin:

'Ambiguity prevents organisations from operating with focus, discipline and engagement.'

Beware ambiguity - clarity rules.

I help individuals communicate with confidence, clarity, engagement and purpose. Bespoke coaching for business owners and Individuals within organisations.

Working 1:2:1 over a period of time for embedded learning with tangible results.

Connect on LinkedIn - I look forward to getting to know you.

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Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.

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