Solving the Communication Gap

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How can you ensure that your instructions are clearly understood? 

We are going to look at the confusion that you can sow in your team when you give unclear instructions. In our Front Line Leadership Program, in the communications module, we do a little activity that I am going to recommend you try.

Communication Exercise 

  1. Using a sheet of paper and pen, go to the left side of your page and draw a circle. 
  2. Underneath the circle, draw an upside-down triangle. Make sure the circle is resting on that triangle. 
  3. Beside the triangle to the right, draw a horizontal rectangle. The corner of the triangle is touching the corner of that rectangle. 
  4. Outside of the circle, you need to create a line that goes across the page, and at the end of that line draw a vertical rectangle. 
  5. To conclude, the line needs to meet halfway; in the top right corner of that rectangle create a small square.

How did you do? Below you will see a diagram that you can compare with what you wrote on the page. 

Solving the Communication Gap. How can you, as a leader, ensure that your communication when giving instructions is clearly understood with your team? Communicate
What you will probably notice is some of it might be right, but most of it is not. So, the issue is – how did I contribute to your confusion?

This result is partly because you were given instructions very rapidly, back-to-back, without any time to process. Sometimes that can happen in the workplace. Essentially, the leader becomes a “Spray and Pray” type of communicator. 

Below are a few tips for communicating and giving your instructions more clearly.

Number One: Repeat Key Details

Sometimes when you give an instruction, it can cause confusion because you have thought it out in your own mind. If you are hijacking someone mid-thought, you will need to get their attention first. 

When you do give an instruction, you may have to repeat it so that they hear it a second time, if they ignored it the first time. Always repeat the key details!Sometimes when you give an instruction, it can cause confusion because you have thought it out in your own mind. If you are hijacking someone mid-thought, you will need to get their attention first. Click To Tweet

Number Two: Give Time to Process and Understand

Secondly, you need to give time to process and understand. When it was described earlier what to do with that diagram, the instructions were given very close together. This made it tough for you to know, “Oh, I have to process that instruction but wait, there is another instruction coming right behind it.” 

So be sure to give people time to process and understand.

Number Three: Allow for a Q&A Opportunity

Instead of just firing out information, maybe you have to give people the opportunity to ask questions and then answer those questions to make them more effective.

If you do those three things, chances are those instructions are going to be more clearly understood and complied with.

  1. Repeat the key details 
  2. Give them time to process and understand, and then
  3. Answer any questions that they have

Eliminate Wasteful Energy

One of the things you can reflect on is how many times people have to come back to you to clarify the things that you told them to do. Or how many times do they make an assumption and do what they think you told them to do, only to find out it really was not what you wanted? 

We are trying to eliminate that wasteful energy.

Once you have figured out how to give clear instructions to your team, you are going to want to work on some of your other leadership skills. You can connect with us about our Front Line Leadership Program, delivered on-site or virtually. It all starts with a conversation on our website at