When to be "Oddly Specific"


Welcome back to "Other than Speech Month" here at Communication FUNdamentals.   All this month, I've been talking about how important communication is for things other than speech making.   So far this month, I've talked about spam, how babies actually cry with an accent, overactive exclamatory punctuation and leadership.  This week, I'd like to talk about when it's important to be "oddly specific" and "specifically general."  I'll talk about the latter on Wednesday, but today, let's get specific. Most of the time, being specific helps avoid confusion. 1. Telling someone you'll meet them in the morning leaves them unsure if they should be at Starbucks at 7am or 11am.  Further, it causes them to have to reconnect with you prior to the meeting for confirmation.  This leads to frustration if the two of you end up playing phone tag or email follow the leader. 2. Not being specific enough, your handyman can cause unreasonable expectations in his customer.  If you don't know that the job will take two weeks, you may become annoyed when your expectation of a three day job has passed and that was three days ago! 3. Without communicating specific issues likely to affect your work, your customer can have an unnecessarily frustrating experience working with you.  I remember a particularly frustrating website situation where I was asked to provide pictures for my website.  My web designer never thought to tell me the quality of the pictures needed nor that the pictures I sent her were going to appear blurry.  She just put them up assuming I was aware of the quality issue and would accept the site as it was.  Had she told me the quality needed up front or when she received the pictures, I would have found better pictures, would not have had a bad experience and would not have begun to look for a new web designer. What doesn't your typical customer know?  What should they be made aware of?  Do so BEFORE it becomes a problem. 3.  Directions Disasters can cause confusion and can even be potentially dangerous.  If my directions say to turn right on Maple, I'm going to turn right on the first Maple I find.  If you forget to tell me to pass Maple Drive (which leads to a rough part of town) and I take Maple Avenue instead, I'm going to be a bit more than frustrated, especially if I have to interrupt Bubba's Welcome Home from Jail Party to ask for clarification. Sometimes things are obvious to us only because we are so familiar with them.  We don't always realize that they are not at all obvious to someone else.  Though it may seem oddly specific to include a tidbit of information we don't think twice about, we should always look at the information we give others from THEIR point of view.  What would they expect?  What would they probably need to know?  What should we be more specific about when we communicate to them? Being specific, even oddly specific, can help avoid frustrating and confusing, even dangerous communication.  On Wednesday, I'll share how there are also times when we need to be specifically general. *SUBSCRIBE HERE*: for More Communication Fun, FREE Gifts and Exclusive Offers! X

6 comments


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    great blog,have a happy time!


  • jojosblog

    I remember that episode, Cindy!


  • Cindy Holman

    This is so true JoJo – especially with children – I remember that old Brady Bunch episode where Greg wants to live by ‘exact words’ – and it comes back to bite him BIG TIME. Being specific is good – and for those who do not want to be tied down – it can be a disaster too!


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  • jojosblog

    Part of the reason folks don’t want to be specific, is because it takes extra time up front. However, you are absolutely correct in that it takes far less time over all!


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