Conscious Communicator Tip #9 – A Lack of Specificity (300 words or less)


Ever leave a conversation scratching your head, saying “they must think I’m a mind-reader!” If so, you were the victim of a “lack of specificity.”

It comes in many forms and sometimes we don’t even realize it ‘til its too late.

We must be vigilant when communicating, in both receiving and delivering, that we have the right amount of specificity in our language. We must ensure that we are setting people up for success.

“A Lack of Specificity” includes leaving out details, such as dates, times, locations, deadlines and necessary instructions to accomplish required and requested tasks. It also comes in the form of continual changing priorities, which causes confusion.

Often, when on the receiving end of a lack of specificity, we do not follow through asking for clarification or more details due to self-esteem and self-confidence issues, as we do not want to seem stupid or that we don’t know something we think other people think we should know.

In the earliest years of schooling as a child you may have heard the phrase  “there are no stupid questions,” yet, as adults our actions show we never came to believe that statement. We avoid asking questions that will help us gain specificity because we feel we may be perceived as being stupid or that we should already know.

In these situations we move forward and give it our best shot or ask for clarity from other sources, wasting time and energy and reinforcing negative beliefs about ourselves.

Delivering the right amount of specificity is challenging too, as it may project condescension towards the recipient or just be too much details that causes them to stop listening. We need to be continually vigilant to deliver the right balance based on the level of the person with whom we are speaking.

Communicating with specificity is one way to ensure you are able to influence others when you communicate. To learn more strategies for “Communicating to Influence” click this link.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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