Do you remember that old school song- “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.  Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.” Well fuzzy in a bear might be cute but in communication it is  the death knell.  In order to be seen as more strategic you need to up the ante on your communication.

Here are some ways to make sure you move away from “fuzzy” language.

1. Use concrete facts and dates when talking about things.

2. Avoid vague language- words like “seldom, usually” as these can vary in mean significantly by each person.

3. Don’t allow employees to use vague language.  Challenge statements like, “it should be done this week” by asking “when specifically should I say it will be completed? Thursday at 3 pm?  This will get people thinking in concrete terms.

4. Read emails, brochures and memos to see what words or phrases could be clear to you but vague to others.  For example, “Enter in the south door when there are three doors on the south side of the building is confusing.” Enter in the South door marked Employees Only is much more clear.

When we bring leaders through Conflict Harmonizer they are continually amazed at how many different interpretations there can be for some of the common words and phrases we all use.  In one game we play we have found a difference of someone assuming a word used meant you did that 70% of the time and someone else in the group interpreted it to mean you did it only 20% of the time- a 50% spread!

The more concrete you become as a communicator the higher your trust rating is with people because they know exactly what you mean.

TAKE ACTION:  Go in to your last three emails and highlight any language that can be misinterpreted or that is vague.  Then rewrite it using concrete terms.