Specificity

Have you ever received a communication that raised more questions than it
answered?

A defect report that doesn’t describe expected result, only that the
feature is broken?

A review of a draft document with a sweeping condemnation of the content,
without example or recommendation of desired changes?

A project status report indicating that the project is experiencing some
issue, but no assessment of the impact of that issue or options to overcome
it?

In each of these examples there are some questions that recipients ask
themselves:

1) Why should I care? – the sender has not given me enough information to
assess the priority or urgency of a response.

2) What should I do? – the sender has not asked for any specific response.
How can I know that any response that I make will improve the situation.

3) Who is responsible? – especially if there are multiple recipients of the
communication, will someone else “take” this one?

The sender has (consciously or unconsciously) assigned all responsibility
to the recipient(s) for understanding the nature, impact priority, urgency,
cause, resolution. He has assigned all decision rights, and responsibility
for communication as well. This creates a “hot potato” where by “touching”
it I risk getting burned.

So when sending communications make sure you “speak” with enough speficity
to allow recipients to respond with confidence. Review your outbound
communication as if you were the recipient. What questions would this
raise for you? How would you respond?

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