Personal development author Steve Pavlina advocates for assuming 100% responsibility for your level of clarity. How clear you are in your intentions, or lack thereof, should not depend on other people, religion, or the structures of society. “Clarity,” Pavlina argues, “is what you create for yourself.” Don’t let someone else decide what matters to you, and don’t blame others if you haven’t figured things out yet. Roll up your sleeves and get to work on it.
Pavlina’s recommendation to take a proactive approach transfers from the clarity we have on our goals to the clarity with which we communicate with others.
Exchanging ideas is a lossy process. We struggle to translate our thoughts into exact words, and our listeners apply their own interpretation to what they hear from us. Perfect clarity might be unattainable, but that shouldn’t stop us from striving for maximum clarity.
Owning your clarity turns every misunderstanding into an opportunity for improvement. And we have much to gain from being as clear as possible, both at work and at home.
You can take a proactive approach to reduce what’s lost in translation when your thoughts become words and actions, or you can hope those you are interacting with are capable of understanding you and have the mental bandwidth to do so.
Taking ownership increases your odds of success.
Writing is an excellent medium to practice owning your clarity. Written communication allows you to check your clarity level and improve it if needed.
Every time someone misunderstands you, ask yourself how you could have communicated more clearly. Every time you’re about to share a message, ask yourself how you could make it clearer.