Conscious Communicator Tip #12 – The Law of Familiarity In Action (300 words or less)

Before I leave this communication sin (Lack of Specificity) its important to share with you a real life example of Law of Familiarity in action, and how easy it is for even the most accomplished conscious communicators to fall into the trap.

A colleague was coming to my home so we could carpool to an event. She was familiar with my neighborhood but not my specific address. I gave her the address and explained exactly (or so I thought) where it was located.

I told her: “Our house is directly across from the tennis club, we’re the second house on the left on Ralph St. Just make a left at Ralph St. when you get to the tennis club.”

She was about 10-minutes late when I decided to call her cell phone. She answered in a panic, “I can’t find Ralph St., anywhere. I’ve driven up and down past the tennis club 3 times!”

Immediately, I knew exactly what happened.

Ralph St. is not the road she needed to turn on. It was “Steven’s Lane” If you live on this Ralph St.,  Steven’s Lane sort of doesn’t count because it immediately angles off to the left and when you stay straight, it turns into Ralph St. and our home is the on the left two houses down.

The road sign across from the tennis club reads “Steven’s Lane.” But, because of the Law of Familiarity I totally forget my colleague needed to know that information to find our home.

A little thing, maybe? But, it caused my colleague unnecessary stress. It caused myself concern because my colleague was late, and could have been late for our event. All due to the Law of Familiarity leading to a Lack of Specificity in my communication.

’til next time, make this week a week of specific communication!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results