ABC Communication for Clarity

The only valid measure of clear communication is whether the other person(s) understood it as it was meant to be understood. Clarity of communication is not about perfect grammar, format, or frequency though all those play a factor in understanding.

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“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard Shaw


Think about communication as an ABC process:

  1. Your initial communication of information, thoughts, etc.
  2. The other person(s) interpretation (not debate) of that information, including the adding of additional value-add contextual details they have, how they will use the information to take an action or make a decision, and clarifying questions if applicable.
  3. Either confirmation that the communication was understood correctly, or going back to Step A with additional details or a different approach. 

David Marquet describes this as "Certify Don't Brief" in his book Turn the Ship Around! about his command of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), which was one of the worst performing submarines in the fleet when he took it over. A couple 1-minute videos (part 1, part 2) describe the basics, but the book is well worth a read.



Related Tools for Expanding on the Basics of ABC Communication


Think about how ABC Communication applies to:


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