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Creating a Culture of Clarity
Karen Martin, author of business leadership book entitled Clarity First, has said that the most important factor to any culture is clarity. (If you would like to get a physical copy or audio copy of Karen’s book, you can do that by Clicking Here.)
Clarity is probably one of the most difficult factors to nail down in any group of people. This is because when we speak to others, we already know what we mean, and therefore at some point we will make overly-generalized statements, or not make statements at all, because we assume that a certain piece of information is already known or understood by those to whom we are speaking; and to some it may be, but not to everyone.
This is already a natural habit, but even when we are trying our hardest to be as clear as possible, it seems that we still, at some point, make this assumption.
Then, there is the tendency of the hearer or hearers to think they already know what you mean and, although you may be speaking as clearly and definitively as possible, they may have stopped listening because they made the same assumption; that they already know what you mean.
It’s like the story of the wife who asked her husband, “Did you hear what I just said?” and he thought to himself, “What a weird way to start a conversation!”
At the beginning of each year, I try to find one word that will guide me in my personal development throughout that year. Of course there will be multiple avenues of growth that I pursue, but I will use that one word to keep me moving forward in a particular direction.
My word for the year 2022 is “Culture”. More specifically, how to define and build the kind of culture I want to see and be part of. One of the first concepts that comes to mind about this is that I have to build my own personal culture first and I have decided that my own personal culture is a culture of personal development and growth, whether it be in the realm of leadership, spirituality, emotional, etc. I want to live a life that is focused on the importance of personal development and growth and making that a priority in my life.
When I say “personal culture”, what I mean is who you are and what you stand for. Really, this ought to be the first culture you build because your personal culture will contribute to all other cultures you try to build in your life.
I have developed four of what I call “Clarity Factors” that I plan to pursue in developing clarity in the culture I want to build around me, whether in my family or in the group of people that I lead. I’ll keep them as short as possible. I’ll give you the first two Clarity Factors in this post and the last two in the next post.
Clarity Factor #1: What do you want to tell them? Tell it!
At this point, I think it is important to reveal that my wife was a magazine writer and editor for her Naval command in Okinawa, Japan. So, she has spent a great deal of time in the world of Public Affairs.
I, on the other hand, was a Marine…enough said! Actually, I had an administrative job, so there had to be some clarity involved in my job as well, but not to the extent that it was needed for my wife’s job.
I bring this out because when I am communicating, as I am now through this blog and podcast, I can look to her for tips on making verbal and written statements more clear. Sometimes, this comes through rewording a statement or removing it altogether, but she is my personal editor to a great degree.
She is also from Michigan, where they speak more clearly in their pronunciations and I am from Alabama where we do not speak very clearly. So, over our years of marriage, she has helped me get better at being more clear, not only in my pronunciation but also in clarifying what I mean when I say something. I say all this because clarity is needed in any relationship and relational leadership is no exception.
So, when you are with someone, no matter who they are or what their rank or position is, when you are speaking with them, what is it specifically that you want to tell them? I mean, what is it that you wish they knew? My advice is, tell it!
Now, of course this only applies when that which you want to tell them is going to be of a beneficial nature. Not everything we think should we be telling people. But, the idea is that rather than being held back by some fear of rejection or disapproval, there is great freedom that is felt when you have removed that barrier of fear and have made known, with clarity, that which you wanted to make known to them. This will go a long way toward building your personal culture of clarity as well as adding to the clarity of the general culture you are in the process of creating! So, Clarity Factor #1: What do you want to tell them? Tell it!
Clarity Factor #2: What do you want them to hear? Say it!
What do I mean by this? Say what you mean! This seems simple enough, right? But, remember what I said earlier about our tendencies to assume people already know something, so we don’t say it and thus it could create confusion, or their tendency to assume they already know what we mean and thus also create confusion.
So, whose fault is it? I once held a belief that, in communication, 70 – 80% of the communication burden was the responsibility of the speaker because they already know what they mean and that only about 20 – 30% of the communication burden was the responsibility of the hearer because the hearer not only has to figure out what is being said, but also has to figure out what is being meant by what is being said all at the same time.
I have since changed my perspective. I would say now that, in communication, 100% of the communication burden is on the speaker, who already knows what they mean, and 100% of the communication burden is also on the hearer, who could ask more clarifying questions until they find out what is meant by what is being said.
So, this means you and I can breathe a sigh of relief and a sigh of discouragement at the same time because both speaking and listening take work, which is why most people won’t do it!
So, Clarity Factor #2: What do you want them to hear? Say it!, because if we don’t, the hearer may very well “hear” something that you didn’t say, and we will end up like that one man who had to tell his audiences, “Don’t go telling people I said something that I didn’t say!”.
-Karen Martin, author of business leadership book Clarity First, has said that the most important factor to any culture is clarity. (Link to the book is in this post).
-My word for 2022 is “Culture”. Build your own personal culture first (Meaning who you are and what you stand for)
-Your personal culture will contribute to all other cultures you try to build in your life.
–Clarity Factor #1: What do you want to tell them? Tell it!
-My wife was in public affairs in the Navy (Go Navy!) and I was in administration in the Marines (Oorah!) and she acts as the editor for my blogs and podcasts to a great extent because some people are better at clarity than others.
-When you are with someone, no matter who they are or what their rank or position is, when you are speaking with them, what is it specifically that you want to tell them? I mean, what is on your heart that you wish they knew? My advice is, tell it!
–Clarity Factor #2: What do you want them to hear? Say it!
-In communication, 100% of the burden is on the speaker, who already knows what they mean, and 100% of the burden is on the hearer, who could ask more clarifying questions until they find out what is meant by what is being said.
If you find value in these blog posts and podcast videos, it would mean a lot to us if you would share them out to your social media friends and community so they can also learn of the importance of Creating a Culture of Clarity.