“Be polite, be professional, but a have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” -General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis
Ambiguity and inconsistency are two monster enemies of our time and attention. Our time and attention make up our real competitive advantage (see Part 1 and Part 2 here). They are finite and valuable resources.
So play nice but plan to kill ambiguity and inconsistency when and where we meet them. No one else will ruthlessly protect your biggest assets for you.
Enemy #1 – Ambiguity
Have I made myself clear? Really? Have you?
Ambiguity makes room for misunderstanding and can cause you to waste time dealing with the wrong issues. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone that is talking but not really saying anything? Or have you heard a conversation get completely sideways because one person wasn’t being clear and the other person took what they incorrectly perceived and ran with it?
Ambiguity keeps you and those you work with from being held accountable. If no specific outcome has been agreed to, how can anyone really be responsible? Ambiguity keeps us from identifying what the real issue is, whose responsibility it is, and what really needs to be done. If we aren’t honest and clear with what we are really trying to accomplish then everyone involved is wasting their time.
The only way to kill ambiguity is to demand specificity and clarity from yourself and the people you interact with – be they clients, coworkers, employees, or family. Start recognizing when you or others are being vague, either intentionally or unintentionally. Ask yourself if you fully received the message they are trying to send. And then confirm it by repeating back what you heard. The other person thought they were being clear but you may have misunderstood the message.
Being specific and clear includes discussing what the ‘deliverable’ really is. What does it includes? What does ‘done’ really look like? We aren’t really communicating if we are not sending and receiving clear messages. The more clear and specific we are, the less time we waste. Which leaves more time and attention we are able to spend on the right things.
Enemy #2 – Inconsistency
Didn’t we already decide this once? Haven’t we already answered this question?
Inconsistency is a giant waste of time. If we, individually or with our team, decide the standard way something should be done but don’t apply it consistently, we will have to relive the decision making process again. With every new project, each month, every new client, we’ll waste our time and attention deciding how to move forward…again. And don’t gloss over the fact that we had really good reasons for what we decided to do the first time that get lost if we reinvent the approach time after time (quickest, least expensive, higher perceived value for the client, most efficient, etc).
Transform what you and your team do into a boring machine. Make it so standard that things gets done with less and less of your energy. Everyone will know what to expect and what is expected of them. Everyone knows what they are held accountable for. Precedent has been set. Use all that saved time and attention moving forward on you higher impact, higher value, projects and initiatives.
Vanquish ambiguity and inconsistency and defend the throne of your competitive advantage. What sets you and your company apart are your time and attention. And those assets are finite and valuable. Treat them that way.
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By Jonathan Walters with Crux Consulting, Inc. – Crux Consulting Inc. is the secret weapon for general contractors and construction trades, providing practical business growth guidance and game changing success tools. Want to know more? Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.cruxconsultinginc.com.