Communicating With Clarity – Don’t Leave Others Hanging With Uncertainty

by Diane M. Hoffmann

Here’s another example of bad communication.  True story.  Fredda is part of a team that provides weekly events to seniors in their community.

Each one member does his/her one day per week and when one cannot make it, works out with another who can fill-in for that person for that day.

Rick, one of the team members, often changes his days because of various family and work activities. He took the month of July off and asked Fredda to work the events in his place. When the month was over, Fredda sent the following email to confirm whether or not Rick would be back to his normal routine at this time.

“Rick… Jim will be doing his regular 1st Monday of the month, this Monday... are you still wanting to be off during August? Let me know if you want me to continue filling in for your days this month. Fredda”

His answer was:

“Hi Fredda…Our holidays are done now. I would be delighted to be back in the schedule. Perhaps next Monday would work? See you tomorrow. Rick

Now, tell me… does that answer the question? Or does it leave the whole communication open, requiring another email or phone call from Fredda for clarification?

First, Rick says that “he would be delighted” – that does not say that he will be back on schedule. Second, he then uses the word ‘perhaps’ which declares uncertainty, and even adds a question mark to it.  His response leaves the whole issue up in the air. And his last line "see you tomorrow" was pure assumption that Fredda would be at a particular place totally aside from these events.

Simly, the answer from Rick should have said something like this: “Fredda… our holidays are done now. I will be back to my regular schedule starting with August 11.”

Now, that’s proper communication!/dmh