Advance your career by speaking more clearly

One of my favorite words in life is clarity. I have relied on this word in many ways, especially over the past five months in my new role as President, Client Strategy & Partnerships at Kforce.  I also find parallels with the definition of the word clarity and how I approach coaching youth sports, which is a huge passion of mine.  As I reflect back on my nearly 18 years of experience at Kforce, I have gained valuable insight both from a customer interaction perspective, and from an internal operational health structure as well.  One of the best books I’ve read as of late was “The Advantage”, written by Patrick M. Lencioni, who hits a homerun with his messaging on clarity and how the power of communicating and reinforcing clarity can produce such greater results.

How many times have you left a meeting and were sure that everyone was on the same page and then to find out they weren’t?

What I always tell myself and others is that when in doubt, over communicate to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Let me provide an example that is relevant to my industry as we provide consulting services to our clients to help them solve some of their most challenging business problems. When our sales team is in discovery mode with one of our client’s, it is imperative that we align our delivery team from the beginning of our sales process. This allows for full transparency to ensure that clarity of our client’s business objectives are achieved. Why is this so important? So that my team can deliver the right domain expertise to meet the needs of our client. If I don’t over-communicate this point, I run the risk of my team not being able to deliver to our client which can have a negative impact on their business.

A great way to implement clarity into your communication is to simply ask everyone what they heard and what they perceive their next actions to be before you leave a meeting. Another method is to ask a team member if what you just said makes sense. For example, the next time you are working with a customer or an internal employee, take the time to ask “Does that make sense with regards to what I just said?” By simply asking this question, you can avoid so much wasted time, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.  In today’s fast paced age, we must use all means of communication with our clients to ensure we are easy and flexible to work with. Whether it is done via text, cell, desk phone, or social media; do what is easiest for your client and ensure your team understands what your customer prefers.

As I mentioned above, clarity and clear instruction also has helped me with coaching youth sports. Recently, I was coaching and my assistant coach was talking to my young athletes. However, it was obvious to me that they were not retaining what they were being taught.  Again, an easy way to ensure they are understanding the message is to ask the young athletes, “Does that make sense for what coach just said? If so, please describe to me what it means and how can we use what he taught you in a game?” By offering additional clarity, My coach and I saw immediate results from the impact our coaching could have and the young athletes saw immediate results as well.

So many of today’s organization issues, in my mind, come down to communication. Communication that one person believes was clear, but in the end learns that it was not received as they might have intended.

What are some examples of times you thought your communication was clear, but the recipient let you know it was not?

I would love to challenge you to take the time to slow down and ensure that clarity has been established (and reinforced) to ensure your goals can be achieved. I enjoy simplifying life, both personally and professionally, and I often wonder why others don’t as well. Working hard is one thing, but I would rather work smart to make things easier on ourselves. The word clarity has definitely helped me make life easier, and I hope that by focusing on the benefit of this word, you can too.

Please share my article if you found useful or even leave a comment with your thoughts on how you use clarity to benefit you, either personally or professionally.

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