Why Clarifying is Important in the Workplace by Violet Dhu

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” ~ Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland.”

We have all, at times, had to follow vague, unclear, or nonspecific instructions. These unclear instructions can be confusing and can result in errors, miscommunications, and low team morale.

Seeking clarification.

If you have a boss or supervisor who is unclear in their communication, it is important to seek clarification. Being an assertive communicator will help ensure that you fully understand what is required, which will help resolve miscommunication between the people involved in a meeting, project, or scope of work.

Clarification helps boost communication, team effectiveness, and organisational culture.

Why You Need to Clarify

Here are five reasons and 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.

One of the causes of conflict in the workplace is agreeing to something you’re not sure about, which, most of the time, results in misunderstandings. When accepting projects or tasks, it is crucial that each party understands the impact of their involvement and how their actions affect other people’s tasks and what is required of them.

2 To prevent being overworked or underworked.

The more immersed you get into your role, the more tasks and projects are entrusted to you. When your immediate manager, supervisor or team leader gives you something to do in addition to your current workload, always remember to clarify. Make a task audit and set priorities.

If you feel adding another task would compromise your work at hand, ask to move the timelines. If it is urgent and needs to be completed as soon as possible, ask permission to delay your current tasks until later. Otherwise, ask if somebody else to do it or delegate some of your workloads to others.

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

When meeting for a team project, the most important part is sharing ideas and asking questions. Asking questions and clarifying expectations assist the team in gaining a shared understands of their role in the project or task at hand. Clarifying makes sure that everyone in the team is on the same page and sets the right expectations.

4 To prevent assumptions that may result in poor performance.

When people make decisions out of assumptions or execute tasks without clear direction, it often results in inefficiency and project failure. Before accepting any projects or tasks, knowing what’s expected of you is important and reduces your risk of mistakes.

If you think the instructions are vague or need more details from anyone on the team, don’t hesitate to ask and clarify.

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

Miscommunication in the workplace is one of the significant causes of project mistakes. 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 or, worse, loss of the project.

Clarifying is about accountability. By clarifying everyone’s expectations and roles, you’ll help build greater trust and increased productivity among the team. Practice clarifying at work and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Ask, verify, and clarify because unanswered questions are a hindrance to growth.

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