Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
What does it mean?
The ability to share your ideas with others in ways that ensure you are understood. Engaging in all types of communication across all possible modes in ways that are clear. Avoiding distortions, generalisations or omissions. Remembering that communication involves sharing ideas and receiving ideas; listening, reading, watching.
Why does it matter?
There is little point having great ideas if you cannot then share them others and when you do you will want to be understood. But thinking and communicating with clarity and precision also has an affect on your understanding. It is important that when we think about and communicate ideas and events that we do so accurately and without errors creeping into our thought processes. Making generalisations that are wrong, distorting facts or leaving facts out are all to be avoided.
When should you use it?
Whenever you are communicating with yourself or others. When it is important to be clear and well understood. When you realise you should not have to explain your explanations.
In the Trash Compactor scene from 'Star Wars - Episode IV' communication is critical for the survival of Han, Luke, Chewbacca and Leia as they call for the help of the droids, C3PO and R2D2.
In this video compiled from 'The King's Speech' we see a King who understands the importance of effective communication but thanks to a speech impediment is unable to do so and needs the help of an expert.
5 Top Strategies:
- Communicate often, practise is essential, pay attention to what works, observe the habits of those who communicate effectively
- Plan out what you need to communicate in advance, create an outline for written works
- Edit your written works for meaning and accuracy. Ask; 'Does this mean what I think it means?' Have a friend check
- Avoid over generalisations, distortions and deletions. Check for these in your thinking. Learn to spot them in the communications of other people.
- Think about your audience. What do they need to know? Will they understand you? What questions might they have that you should answer in your communication?
5 Questions to ask about your thinking:
- What do you mean? What do you want to communicate? Why are you communicating this? Who are you communicating with?
- Is my thinking accurate? What parts of this idea am I not clear about?
- When listening to, reading or observing effective communication ask; 'Why is this easy to understand?'
- Have you been complete in you explanation? What additional details might be required?
- Reflect on you plan and consider questions your audience might ask, then add the answers into your plan or change how you are explaining yourself.
Thinking routines for Communicating with clarity and precision
- Think, Puzzle, Explore - Use this routine to bring clarity to a topic and develop an outline of key points. Begin with 'What do you think you know about the topic/problem?' then move to 'What questions or puzzles do you have about the topic?' finally consider 'How can you explore this topic?'.
- Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate (A Mind-mapping strategy)- Generate a list of ideas and initial thoughts, Sort your ideas by importance or usefulness, Connect your ideas by using lines making a map of your ideas with their links, Elaborate on any ideas or explore the most important ideas or clusters in greater depth. Use to create an outline for your communications. Combine with 'Think, Puzzle, Explore' to make Elaboration easier.
- Claim, Support, Question + Explore - Identify a claim about the topic. Identify support for the claim. Ask questions about the claim that explore; What isn't explained, What over-generalisations may have been made? What has been distorted? Useful to use with a friend asking the questions. Lastly consider how you can Explore the accuracy of the claim and answer the questions you have asked. Apply to your thinking and to other people's communications.