An introductory concept for clarified conversation
Communication – the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.
Have you ever wanted to tell someone how you were feeling but worried it might come out wrong? Have you ever thought about conversations hours or days after they happened and regretted not adding specific points to prove your case? Do you sometimes choose not to say something on your mind because it doesn’t feel like you can get it out clearly? These communication barricades get in the way of our abilities to improve personal and professional relationships. They also break down our self-confidence and cause us to question ourselves constantly. The fear of rejection, humiliation, or the belief that you will be perceived as aggressively argumentative has paralyzing side effects that shy us away from doing anything other than nodding in agreement. So how do you overcome all these scary thoughts and improve your communication? Use the C.L.E.A.R. Method.
People often describe achieving clarity in conversations with their peers in one of three ways: symbiosis, goal completion, or the sharing of values. All three focus on different methods of understanding and help form a bond of trust. Clarity is vital for relationships of all kinds, particularly with coworkers in the workplace. To achieve clarity, there needs to be a level of communication that goes beyond information sharing to ensure purpose, theory, goal, and logic are received.
The C.L.E.A.R. Method is one of the ways to help bridge these ideas.
- C – Condensing information to key statements
- L – Listening with the intention of hearing
- E – Emphasizing the goal to discover potential solutions
- A – Addressing assumptions to remove confusion
- R – Receiving feedback to help promote future growth
It’s easy to get stuck inside conversations that travel down proverbial rabbit holes when exploring a topic with a coworker. One of the things that help create clarity is reducing the tendency to be overly verbose and focusing on the crucial statements that need to be made. Simplicity creates understanding. Avoid adding confusing fragments of information or statements that stray from the purpose of the conversation. Keep things concise to make sure everything is clear.
Active Listening is a skill that requires focus and dedication but can help you achieve amazing outcomes with peers. The key is listening with the sole intention of hearing what someone is saying. Remove all distractions, maintain eye contact (when possible), and stay away from veering off topic. After giving concise information, asking, “what are your thoughts” or “what are you thinking” can open a world of perspective (if you genuinely listen). These powerful questions can build ideas you didn’t initially consider. Beyond that, it helps you align with what the person you’re speaking to is understanding.
What are you trying to communicate? Narrow it down to one sentence and state it clearly. Emphasizing is the art of expressing a one-sentence goal and keeping it at the top of a conversation between two people. It is always best to stay fixed on what you’re looking to achieve so that tangents and the potential to divert don’t get in the way. Closing the conversation by asking if the goal was achieved will help make sure it has appropriately connected with all parties and strengthens the idea that conversations should come full circle.
When presenting your portion of a conversation, be sure you are removing assumptions from statements. Consider the adjectives you are using to describe a situation and their connotation. Beyond your perceived definitions of the words you use, consider that whoever you deliver them to might have an alternate understanding. The more subjective terminology you use during conversations that require mutual alignment, the more you divert from the goal of syncope. Whenever you note yourself making assumptions, request clarification or offer the observation of your perception. This will help the person you are speaking to refine their point.
Feedback is critical to creating alignment. After making concise statements with removed assumptions, allowing your peer to offer their thoughts and feedback is vital. After all, a two-way conversation requires more than just one person delivering a message. Be sure to ask for feedback and consider whether any other options or thoughts were missed before the conclusion of the conversation. If more information is needed or there are more points to refine, the conversation should continue.
All of the rules in the C.L.E.A.R. Method boil down to simple questions:
- C – Are we making sure conversation is not overly complex?
- L – Are we focused on listening to input being provided?
- E – Do we have a simple, one-sentence goal?
- A – Are we addressing perceived assumptions?
- R – Are we taking in feedback to ensure full alignment?
The C.L.E.A.R. Method can be a powerful instrument when the goal is to align with teammates in conversations. It is a tool that helps build effective communication to forge stronger relationships, resolve issues, and achieve common goals for forward traction.
The message behind the method is that it’s all about CLARITY. As you practice conversations with coworkers, focus on ensuring things are clear. Ask the C.L.E.A.R. questions and take your alignment to new levels.