Nothing is ‘obvious ‘ to anyone, and assumptions can cause grey areas. They are the worst enemy of an effective communication and they are also known as ambiguity. Grey areas generate doubts, hesitation, uncertainty, mistrust and worst of all, they can interfere with getting things done. Grey areas can appear:
-When something is not specific enough. E.g:‘I need you to help me more with the children’ instead of “I need you to help twice per week to bathe the children and then put them in bed by 7:30 pm”/ "we need to improve our team work" instead of “we need to meet every Monday at 8
am so we can clarify and assign the tasks of the week”.
-When a task or project doesn’t have a deadline or a follow up date.
-When you haven’t defined how and when are you going to measure progress or success.
-When you have great planning and poor execution and results.
-When you feel nobody understands your expectations .
Effective communication is “black and white“ and has no room for grey areas. There is a Japanese principle for this that is called
Poka-yoke and is used in the manufacturing industry, especially for equipment operation. Poka-yoke means mistake proofing and prevents incorrect operation by the user. Everything is specified and defined so well, that there is literally no opportunity to make a mistake as long as the correct process is followed.
You can transfer this manufacturing principle and apply it to your “black and white “communication strategy. The first step is for you to assume the responsibility for expressing the things or results that you want or expect in an accurate and simple way. Then, make your messages ‘misunderstanding proof” by being as clear as you can and avoiding any ambiguity. And finally, don’t assume…ask what they understood, you can be surprised. Clarify the information asking: Can you sumarize the main points of our agreement? / Can you tell me in your own words what are the next steps/ what is the plan?
After all, black and white communication is about fine tuning. It will help you to align your energy with those around you in order to make extraordinary things happen!