Clarifying Expectations Reduces The Risk of Miscommunication and Difficult Conversations by Violet Dhu

At a recent small business seminar, I spoke about how to make your business more resilient by reducing the risk of Difficult Conversations with staff and customers by clarifying expectations. According to negotiation expert Allan Parker, “clarifying the necessary points allows you to move toward clear understanding, which helps in establishing a common ground that eventually leads to agreement.” Lack of clarity and vague expectations are common causes of miscommunication and difficult conversations.

Clarifying helps avoid conflict and miscommunication and improves the clarity of communication. Clarification is part of being an effective and assertive communicator and will help ensure that you fully understand what is required. It helps boost clear communication, team effectiveness, and has a positive impact on organisational culture. 

Here are 5 reasons, with examples, as to why we need to be prepared to clarify when we are asked to do something:

1. To avoid conflict in the workplace

When accepting projects or tasks, it is important that each party understands the impact of their involvement and how their actions affect other people’s tasks and what exactly is required of them and by when and by whom.

2. To prevent being overworked or underworked

The more immersed you get into your role, the more tasks and projects are entrusted to you. Make a task audit and set priorities and clarify expectations to ensure you and your team are not overloaded.

3. To ensure everyone in the team is on the same page.

When meeting for a team project, a very important part of the project is the sharing of ideas and asking questions. This shows whether everyone on the team understands their role and that they understand their goals. Clarifying not only makes sure that the team is on the same page, but it also sets the right expectations and avoids difficult conversations later on.

4. To prevent assumptions that may result in poor performance.

When people make decisions based on assumptions, or they execute a task without clear direction, it often results in inefficiency and project failure. Before accepting any projects or tasks, knowing what is expected of you is imperative.

5. To avoid miscommunication which may lead to project mistakes and overruns.

Miscommunication in the workplace is one of the major causes of project mistakes and failures. When people fail to clarify, be it about some project details such as timelines, design, language, contracts, pricing, client instructions, etc., it can lead to additional costs, time overruns, undoing work already completed or at worse, loss of the project.

Clarifying is a key skill in communication, and it is a key to avoiding unnecessary difficult conversations. Clarifying is also about being authentic, assertive and being accountable. By clarifying everyone’s expectations and roles, you’ll help build greater trust and increased productivity and engagement among the team. 

Learn more about clarifying and dealing with difficult conversations in the Real Leadership for Women Masterclass Program in Perth on 22-23 in November.

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