Giving Specific Communication

When I was eleven years old in Des Moines, Washington, I would go to our small community library to check out a couple of books. One time, I found this book about a young boy who wanted to be a journalist. It looked interesting so I checked it out. As I read it, the boy learned that a journalist answers five ‘W’ questions with each and every article – who, what, when, where and why.

As we communicate information to others, this is a good formula to make sure we are being specific. Some examples of those questions are:

  • Who is involved, who made the decision, who does this apply to, who is working on it, who do I need to talk to
  • What are we doing, what is going to happen, what has happened, what is it, what  limitations do we need to know
  • When did this happen, when will it take place, when does it need to be operating, when will supplies (or equipment) be available, when will we report or follow-up
  • Where is this going to be used, where do the materials come from, where are others who will be involved, where are we going to do the work
  • Why is this important, why was I chosen, why do we need this, why not use an alternative approach

As we ask and answer these basic questions, we communicate more specifics.  As we are more specific in our communication, there is more clarity and transparency in our own minds, as well as, the minds of others.

Do you have an experience where a lack of specifics led to confusion, failure or frustration?

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