Are you clear or cOnfUSinG? Here’s a way to straighten that out.

When customers or employees are unengaged or confused, it can largely be because you haven’t answered some simple questions they may have. You may think you have, but for whatever reason, they didn’t get it.

Answering questions can be more difficult than you think. What we might think answers the question might seem clear but given that people come to us with many different histories and types of experience, what we think is clear and simple might be confused and garbled to them.

One trick used in education is to say the same thing several different ways to try to ensure all of those different perspectives hear what we are saying clearly. Teachers will often say something, write it down, and maybe even have the students demonstrate it as it is described to them. You see, some people are aural, they hear best, some are visual, they do best when they see it, and others are tactile, they need to get active and do it as best they can.  And while all of these might be impractical to do with customers and employees, I think you get my gist.

Next time you are trying to explain something to a customer or employee, don’t walk away assuming they got what you were trying to say, ask them if what you said was clear – don’t ask if they understood, no one wants to say that they didn’t because that’s like saying “nope, I’m an idiot and need you to dumb it down.” When you ask if you’ve been clear, you put the onus for performance on you not them, if you’ve not been clear, you’re the one that’s an idiot and everyone’s okay with that, except for maybe you. So, ask them if you’ve been clear and if they reply that you haven’t, say it again in a different way. Maybe you can make an analogy, or draw a diagram, or write the steps down, or, well, you get the picture.

Giving people certainty and clarity is a surefire path to better relationships and better performance. And being helpful is the best way to show your commitment to their success, and that, my friends, is service, really good service.


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