One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday is to jump in the car with Tom and head out to explore an area without any particular destination in mind. I love stumbling upon quaint little towns with their specialty shops, unique restaurants, hidden history, and interesting conversations with proprietors or patrons. I instantly relax into the freedom of wandering and exploring. For me, there’s no getting lost in getting lost because I revel in all the surprises that we invariably find along the way.
Conversely, one of my least favorite things is to wander and feel lost when I have a clear destination in mind. When I need to be somewhere at a certain time and don’t have a clarity about where to go or how to get there, I’m instantly stressed.
The same is true for communication. If you are in the mode of discovering someone’s story, it feels good to wander in the conversation, allowing whatever shows up to guide the journey to new and interesting discoveries. But, if you need a particular outcome, it is distinctly to your advantage to have a clear destination in mind. Wandering and meandering in an important conversation is irritating at best and destructive at worst.
Here are some recent examples from our work with clients:
- Vision alignment: Every year, we help prepare dozens of business owners or department leads to articulate their future vision, values, and standards to their teams with clarity and inspiration. Without a clear message (destination) and presentation outline, the speech often wanders, leading to a confusing, diluted message to the team.
- Courageous Conversations: Without a clear outcome defined in advance, the person initiating these types of conversations will fail to control the direction of the exchange and, instead, be lured off track by the responses of the receiver.
- Stage presentations: We coached over 50 speakers in 2021 on delivering a presentation from some sort of a platform. In every case, the first coaching questions we start with are:
- What is the outcome you desire at the conclusion of your program?
- What is the outcome your audience desires?
- What is the one-line, bottom line point of this presentation?
The answers to these questions are what drive clarity of message from a speaker to their audience every time.
- Personal Issues: If I want to sit down with my husband, parent, child, or friend and discuss an issue that is important to me about something I wish they did differently, I want to get clear in advance about not only my request but also my core motivation and intention. How do I want them to feel? How do I want to grow the relationship? What is the ultimate outcome I’m after?
We could list dozens more examples, but the key point is that we always remember that conversations which are important to us need to be clear to be successful. Take a moment before your next conversation to solidify for yourself what your destination is and commit to staying focused on the shortest route to get there. Wandering is wonderful if exploration and surprises are your goal. Clear destinations are better if your goal is clarity and positive change.
“The characteristics of an authentically empowered person is humbleness, clarity, forgiveness, and love.”
~ Gary Zukav