Thou Shalt Not Be Vague

In February I promised a conversation about the #1 thing that is getting in the way of having a great experience at your workplace.  The year-end survey that I sent out to identify the top reasons there is dissatisfaction in the workplace revealed the #1 reason is…COMMUNICATION!

Any idea how many different directions I can go with Communication in the Workplace?  I will be exploring the topic throughout the year using “The Ten Commandments of Good Communication”.  These Commandments were adapted from the American Management Association in the 1967 textbook, Effective Communication in Business – Aurner and Wolf*.  That’s right, a 1967 book that timelessly speaks to the virtues of workplace communication.

Commandment One:  Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating.  My interpretation of this Commandment is Thou Shalt Not Be Vague.

I probably wouldn’t need to say more but it’s worthy of our time.  Have you ever had a conversation with manager or a co-worker that left you scratching your head wondering what just happened?  That is an example of when the communicator is still ‘in their head’ and hasn’t taken the time to articulate the message.  Here are a few key points to help you keep Commandment One:

  • As thoroughly as possible, think through the idea that you are communicating before you speak – write down a couple of key words or make a quick outline.
  • If you need support thinking through the idea, ask someone to allow you to think aloud with them.
  • If you are writing about your idea, have someone read through your draft and allow them to ask questions – ask them to tell YOU what they read to see if you have been clear.
  • If you are on the receiving end of a vague conversation, have the courage to ask clarifying questions – let the person know you are asking so that you can see what they are seeing.

Stay tuned for more timeless wisdom from the “Ten Commandments of Good Communication.

* “Ten Commandments of Good Communication.” Effective Communication in Business. American Management Association. Cincinnati: South-Western Publishing Company, 1967.