Communication is an art to which we can apply the science of “how to be most effective” steps. Even with good intentions, team-focused care, and task-focused attention, communication can break down.
Enter “clarifications” as a tool set for improving communications at the start, in the middle, and when wrapping up a process or project.
Clarify (verb) means to make a situation, statement, or direction less confusing and more comprehensible or understandable. To clarify is a phrase found in cookbooks too, meaning “to melt in order to separate water and milk solids”, as one would do when melting butter. To clarify by way of creating less confusion: today I am speaking of the first definition.
Clarification is a noun which means “the action of making a statement or situation less confused and more comprehensible.” Lately I’ve found that online and/or text-only communications can create the same amount of, or even more, confusion than a live-time, voice-to-voice conversation which allows for immediate clarification rather than a delayed (by hours or days) clarification about what action is to be taken.
Having found myself in some long-distance family-support situations that got muddled, I sure wish that live-time conversations had happened so that I was clear on what family members wanted to have happen. Even better, in-person conversations would have helped a multitude of projects unfold smoothly. However, the travel limitations of 2020 prevented my being there in person, just as we are often prevented from meeting in person for work projects and events.
Therefore, today’s conversation about clarification! Some of my favorite clarification requests include:
- Please ask me that again in another way, using different words.
- Please explain that again, using different words.
- What needs to be done? By Whom? When? (All action items must answer these three questions to be effective.)
- How can I be most helpful?
- What didn’t I ask that based on your experience I should have asked?
On occasion, a clarification does not provide the information we need, or were hoping for. When this happens, ask for more information. Or, when it is not the answer you were hoping for, do your best to fulfill your portion of the work.
Other times, the clarification does help solidify what you or your team need to do to complete work, support client projects, or to move accomplishments forward so that another person/team can complete the work. This scenario is what we’re aiming for – a clear understanding of what needs to be done, by whom, and by what deadline.
What needs clarifying in your world?
What can you do today to gain clarification?
In need of workplace clarifications? Let’s visit. Jana Kemp 208-367-1701
As the author of seven books, three of which are on use of time and decision-making, Jana has been interviewed by U.S., Canadian, and European programs, and magazines.
Workplace – the Blog: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work.