I was recently listening to a training piece by Michael Hyatt where he mentioned ‘being clear over clever”.
Wonder how many instances of communication we can count when we have all struggled with this. Whether at home or at work. Whether it’s writing a marketing piece, and email, or just persuading a client or friend. Heck…even when I am trying to convince my daughter to listen to me!
Every day, countless meetings are held in companies all over the world without any real work getting done. Every day, people are having ‘heart-to-heart’ conversations without getting any breakthrough to their issues. Marketing campaigns are going down the drain, negotiations are hitting dead-ends, and relationships are broken.
At least, some of it can be attributed to sacrificing clarity for cleverness in communication.
Here’s why this is important…..
Being clever is a sign of ego-massage, being clear is a sign of maturity.
People who try to appear too clever usually are too self-occupied – so much that they forget why they opened their mouth (or presentation software or sales copy or email) in the first place. Adding value, solving a problem, finding a solution – these are not high on their priority list.
On the other hand, “clear people” are impatient to get to the heart of the matter, to gain forward movement. They have no time to waste on shining their ego at others’ expense.
‘Clever’ is junk-food, ‘clear’ is water
Here’s what I mean. A double-sized burger satisfies your cravings in the moment, but leave you feeling bloated and malnourished.
A glass of water, on the other hand, is as simple and bare-bones as it comes, but is life-giving and absolutely essential.
‘Clever’ relies on crossed-fingers, ‘clear’ leads to joining hands
If your communication is not clear and does not give a clear call to action, you will have to rely on hope and prayers to achieve what you want. Whereas when a message is crystal clear and easily understood, it inspires confident partnerships and accelerated action.
How to be clear vs. clever
Aim for Less, but Better
I am in love with this idea from Dieter Rams ( I wrote about its amazing utility for personal productivity in this post)
Always be thinking about how to convey the most pertinent information in as few words as possible. Cut out all jargon and all the paraphernalia to boil down ideas to their very essence. Let there be no doubt about what you say in people’s minds.
First, hit the bull’s eye
Get to the heart of the matter quickly. No beating around the bush for a long time. Yes, it’s important to set the stage; yes, it’s critical to pique curiosity in others for what you are about to say – but don’t drag it and get mired in non-essential fluff.
Always, be mindful
It’s usually not what people say, but how they say it that makes all the difference. Saying the right things, and saying things right happens only with deep awareness about yourself and others.
First, get clarity for yourself about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Then, think about who you are talking to – what are they going thru? How are they going to perceive what you say? What should you say such that they get your message, in a way that inspires positive action?
Remember, if you aim for clever, you will draw applause. If you aim for clear, you will draw action.