Has a lack of clarity ever created trouble for you?
It has for me, THAT’S for sure. At the time of this writing, the Malaysian Airlines 777 hasn’t been found. Not only has it not been found but it seems that those at the airline are wandering around in the wilderness. Were it not for the support and help of the international community there is no telling what state the investigation would be in. I am in no way passing any kind of judgment on the executives of the airline, but I am saying that this is likely the best example of an investigation gone wrong in recent memory. For purposes of my comments I will restrict them to what I believe is the biggest problem….a lack of clarity.
In the heat of a crisis, our minds often start to pump all manner of cortisol and adrenaline into our systems; triggering rapid heart rate, racing thoughts, etc. When faced with a challenging, even critical, circumstance, it is always best to take a step back and get your head and heart clear. That’s obvious, right? You would think so but I am always interested in how often we don’t get our thoughts and facts straight before communicating…particularly communicating to people that have a significant stake in the outcome. Whether it’s 1:1 or to a group, be clear and fact-based and above all TELL THE TRUTH or don’t tell anything. As we have heard for years, “the crime is in the cover up.” The crime is in the lack of clarity as well.
Here are my suggestions:
Honesty (in order to be effective) should be 1. Fact based 2. Useful 3. Constructive.
Pause and think through your message from the listeners’ perspective.
Communicate next steps and expectations for future updates, etc.
Run the message by people with no agenda so that they can give you feedback.