It is estimated that our brains receive information through our senses that result in some four billion neuron impulses per second. Of these four billion pieces of information we are only consciously aware of about 2,000. That’s a mere 0.00005%.
It is happening to you right now.Possibly, until we mention it now, you were not even aware of the sense perception of your clothes on your skin. Or, aware of the noise in the background. Or, aware of all the multitude of objects just inside your peripheral vision. Until we mentioned them you were paying attention to something else.
If you had to be fully aware of all the information that you receive at all times you probably would be so overwhelmed you wouldn’t be able to function. Unwanted information is filtered out through a process of Deletion, Distortion and Generalization. This filtering process is driven largely by our beliefs of how things are at any given time.
Whilst this can be tremendously helpfulin keeping you from being overwhelmed it can lead you into making assumptions about situations that might not serve you well; you can easily become a victim of the vagueness that you accept as fact.
To make matters worse, when you communicate with others you pass on your assumptions, with the additional assumption that the recipient makes the same assumptions. Your assumptions create gaps in your communication that you expect the other person to fill in with the SAME understanding. All too often because of your assumptions you do not deliver what is or was expected.
Here are some examples of vagueness. What assumptions are you making as you interpret them?
“Go and increase the morale in the team!”
“Make sure that they fully appreciate your efforts!”
“Spend more time on customer relations!”
Now try this: Being a Champion of Clarity
First off, to be a Champion of Clarity you have to recognize that communication is filled with assumption. A Champion of Clarity recognizes the pitfalls of assumption both as a speaker and as a listener.
As a listener they are very aware of the following phrase:
“The meaning of your communication is the response that you get!”
As such, a Champion of Clarity takes full responsibility for ensuring that their communication is thoroughly understood.
As a listener they recognize that they all too often interact with Victims of Vagueness, and they take steps to avoid relegating from a Champion of Clarity by ensuring that they fully understand the intention of the communication behind the words that they hear.
A good way to ensure proper understanding is getting sensory cues that provide evidence of the successful desired outcome.
In response to the vague statements above, a Champion of Clarity would ask something like:
“And when I have increased morale in the team, what will let you know that it has been done well?”
“What is it that will let them know that we put in effort in a way that should be recognized?”
“And when we are spending more time on customer relations, what will you see and hear?”
Give it some thought. Don’t be a Victim Of Vagueness, become a Champion Of Clarity.