“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.
If you have a boss or supervisor who is unclear in their communication, then it is important to seek clarification. This is part of being an assertive communicator and will help ensure that you fully understand what is required and this 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 5 reasons and examples as to why we need to be prepared to clarify when we are asked to do something:
- To avoid conflict in the workplace
One of the causes of conflict in the workplace is agreeing to something you’re not really sure about which, most of the time, results to misunderstandings. 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.
- 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 must be done as soon as possible, then get permission to delay your current tasks to a later date. Otherwise, ask somebody else to do it or delegate some of your workload to others.
- To ensure everyone in the team are on the same page.
When meeting for a team project, the most important part is the sharing of ideas and asking questions. This shows whether everyone on the team understands their role or that they understand their goals. Clarifying not only makes sure that the team is on the same page, it also sets the right expectations.
- To prevent assumptions which 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 is expected of you is imperative.
If you think the instructions are vague or you need more details from anyone on the team, don’t hesitate to ask.
- To avoid miscommunication which may lead to project mistakes and overruns.
Miscommunication in the workplace is one of the major 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 at 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.