Excellent communicators understand that explanation gaps lead to execution gaps. Remember the old rumor mill game? Speak a phrase to the person next to you at a table. Your neighbor tells it to their neighbor. And so on. Before you know it, the phrase "Let's wrap the various toys with vibrant paper to excite the recipients" turns into "Let's rap serious tunes with vibing peeps to recite to the residents."

Two problems here: First, the resulting statement is a mere shadow of the intended statement. Second, and more importantly, it makes no sense! Amazing how such a little communication gap can cause such a big gap in our outcomes.

One communication lesson I continue to learn each day, whether through a business deal or a negotiation with my kids, is we need to be more specific than we think we need to be.

I remember when my son was 11 years old and he earned his Junior Black Belt in karate. Of course, I was very proud of him, since he had come a very long way since his first lesson. I remember that lesson well. He was 7 years old, and one of the first things the instructor taught him was a simple exercise called a kata. This kata ended with the student saying emphatically, "V for victory and bow for humility" as he crisscrossed his arms over his head with fists clinched for the "V" and then bowed for humility.

That first night, he came home from his lesson and quickly ran to me to proudly show me what he had learned. Seeing his enthusiasm, I dropped what I was doing and became an intent audience of one. As he finished the kata, he performed the closing. "V for victory, bow for humility!" he shouted.

But then, to my surprise, he started yelling insults at me. "Man, I took you down! How about that buddy!" and so on. More than a bit shocked and confused, I asked, "Hey pal, what was that all about?" He responded in a very matter of fact manner, "Dad, that's the bow for humility."

Well, this pointed out how such a little difference could make a big difference, since he thought it was a bow for humiliation, not humility! My son heard his instructor's performance expectation but made his own (incorrect) interpretation, based on his own perceptions and understanding. So, if you depend on others' perceptions to meet your expectations, you will be disappointed.

Instead, specifically explain and confirm to fill the explanation gap...and boost your execution.

Fear not, we clarified the definition of "humility" before my son earned his Black Belt.