Sounds like a good thing, right?
Then why do I so often find myself keeping things general? I want to be flexible, keep options open, and not limit or exclude anyone…but is clarity really what’s keeping me from those things?
It’s so easy to overlook the ways I’m not being clear or to avoid being too explicit in an attempt to appear accommodating.
Sometimes I don’t say exactly what I want because I’m afraid of sounding picky or demanding, but there’s a big difference between being vague and being flexible.
Being very clear and specific can seem like it will come across as limiting, but when I’m not clear it’s actually confusing and frustrating.
When I make an unclear request, I make it difficult for people to respond or even be sure about what they’re actually responding to. Rather than giving them freedom and options, ambiguous requests just add effort and uncertainty.
Similarly, when I’m not clear on where I want to be headed, it’s difficult to know how to move forward. If I take the time to get really specific about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and who I’m doing it for, then I’m positioned to explore and evaluate possibilities.
Recently I was asking people to have conversations with me around core values and how they influence our direction in life. My goal was to experiment with whether helping people through conversations is something that might be a good fit for me…and hopeful actually help people along the way.
At first I was so nervous about trying something new and afraid of how people might respond that I kept my request very vague—hoping people would interpret what I wanted to do in whatever way they thought most positive and feel free to shape the conversation into whatever would be most helpful for them.
Needless to say, that’s not what happened.
In my first batch of conversations, people expressed a lot of anxiety around not knowing what to expect. Add that to my own nervousness and it made for some pretty uncomfortable starts to conversations.
As I continued to ask people for conversations over the next few weeks, I realized I needed to take the time to get really clear about what I was requesting and why—both for them and for myself. Once I finally got really specific, I felt more confident making my request. People also had an easier time responding because they didn’t have to try to figure out what I was asking or wonder what they might be agreeing to do.
In addition, I positioned myself to be more effective during the conversations and to better evaluate and learn from them since I knew what I was testing and why. Now I can use those experiences to gain clarity on what kinds of people I most enjoy working with.
When I seek clarity I make things easier, more effective, and more enjoyable for myself and others.
How about you? Where is ambiguity keeping you from really chasing after what you want? Are the requests you make of other people easy to understand and answer? What is one area of your life that you can get clear on today?