Ever been given a set of instructions, but because the person isn’t communicating with clarity you’re left wondering exactly what it is you’re meant to do? Communication skills are one thing, but clarity in communication is a topic all on its own.
I’ve spoken previously through my CARE to Engage system how important clarity is. It’s also a recurring theme with my leadership and executive clients as well, whether they’re dealing with spoken or written communication.
It’s important that what you communicate to someone is fully understood to ensure they’re clear on what’s expected of them. Otherwise, this can lead to tension between both parties and, in turn, your business or department suffering.
But it’s not that you want to confuse team members or leave them in the dark as to what you want. The problem is that there’s something bigger here at play.
Clarity of thought in leadership
The problem doesn’t lie in just a lack of clarity in communication, but also clarity of thought in leadership.
Leaders need to first find clarity for themselves. What is it you want the outcome to be? This is one of the questions I have my executive clients answer. If you’re going to make a phone call or go into a meeting, the first thing I have clients do is write down:
What’s the outcome I want from this communication? Or what is the outcome I want from this meeting?
Because, until you’re super clear on what YOU want, then it’s impossible for your team members to have clarity on what they need to do to achieve a successful outcome.
Examples of clarity in business communication
There are many examples I can give of clarity in business communication, but one that stands out right now is my own experience of hiring a new virtual assistant. I’ve had VAs before, but they haven’t always worked out as I’d hoped. On reflection, this was partly because of my own communication skills.
With my new VA, my challenge was that I couldn’t be clear with her what I wanted her to do. Her obvious response was: “I don’t know how to help you, because you don’t really know what you want me to do”. And it was true. I didn’t. I knew I needed a VA, I just wasn’t sure exactly what roles I wanted her to fill.
Sometimes in these situations we can get frustrated that the outcomes we want aren’t being achieved or that what we’re trying to say isn’t being understood. However, we first need to take a step back and really ask ourselves:
Do I know what I want?
I had to really follow my own advice and get clear FIRST, before I approached her. In turn, this is providing far better communication between the two of us and, ultimately, better outcomes within my business.
Steps to communicating with clarity
There were a few key steps I took to communicating with clarity as a leader. These were to first ask myself:
- What’s the outcome I want in my business?
- What tasks need to be completed by my VA to achieve those outcomes?
- What are the outcomes of each of those tasks?
- How can I best communicate what I need to have done, why it needs to be completed and what the outcomes are?
What worked for me was to then film a series of videos sharing what the task was, what I wanted her to do with the task, what the outcome expected was and even sharing parts of my business that I needed help with that I knew her skills and knowledge would be able to provide a solution for.
Once I got clear in my own head, I then knew what to say to ensure she had a full picture of what I saw in my head.
Filming videos works for me, but might not work for you. Maybe you need written instructions, audio or to work with someone face to face. It needs to be a medium that works for both parties to ensure the best result.
Why clarity in communication is important
The obvious answer to why you need clarity in communication is to ensure what you communicate is understood and then acted upon in the right manner by your team members. But there’s another reason too.
It’s important to ensure you have engaged employees. If a team member feels they’re constantly “failing” at tasks because there’s no clarity around what’s expected, then they become unmotivated and disengaged.
When people fully understand what you want and go on to succeed, they want to continue to do well. So clarity is critically important. But the clarity starts with you.
Want clarity in your communication skills?
Cynthia Corsetti is an Executive Coach and Speaker. If you’d like to learn more on how her C.A.R.E. to Engage system can help you create an engaged workforce in your organization, you can email her at: [email protected]’m an open networker and I love to connect. Please join me over on LinkedIn and FB so we can take this journey together!
Cynthia, you nailed it, with “leaders need to first find clarity for themselves”. I’ve also began adding at the beginning of a meetings, or presentations, exactly what the desired outcome is and what I need.