While viewing a TedTalk recently, the presenter, a graphic design artist, described the contrasts of clarity and mystery as it pertained to his work in creating layouts for book covers. This got me thinking about how in our daily interactions with people there is often quite a propensity for clarity and mystery relative to the conversation and general interactions we engage in.
In truth clarity is the antidote to mystery. If you meet somebody for the first time, there is some mystery but time can provide clarity relative to better understanding the individual. When messages are conveyed, there can be mystery relative to the tone, the timing, even the messenger, and in the absence of some clarity, the message can be largely misconstrued. Within our everyday lives whether it’s the news media, politicians or business leaders, there is an element of mystery as we try to better understand biased agendas and uncover the real truth.
When we are in a place of clarity, the mystery is absent and we feel confident. We become informed which ultimately leads to making better decisions. Yes mystery has a place in books and movies but in everyday living, clarity is the epitome of where we want to reside.
So when looking for clarity, what are some key skills that you can employ:
- Questioning is by far the most obvious, however it must be done correctly so as to solicit the truth. An incorrect answer still leaves a mystery even though you may not realize it. Ask so that it engages the other person.
- Listening consequently becomes equally critical so that you can analyze what is being said, thus leading to additional questions to get to the core
- Acknowledgement builds rapport (they are being heard) and consequently will make somebody more inclined to trust and tell the truth
This spiral interaction from Questioning to Listening to Acknowledging and then back into Questioning again is where a mystery can become unraveled and true clarity emerges. Years ago when trying to resolve production problems, the Japanese came up with the concept of asking Why 5 times to ultimately get to the root cause (aka clarity). So as a leader, parent, teacher or coach, when somebody presents you with what seems a mystery, work through the 3 step process above and eventually the clarity will emerge.