Human communication is a highly imperfect process, so we need to be more specific than we think.

A few years back I was invited to speak at the INC. magazine leadership conference in San Diego. Once it was confirmed, my wife mentioned it to my son saying, "Hey, Cameron, dad's going to speak at the INC. conference in San Diego, and he's going to take you along with him so you can go to the conference then have fun in San Diego together."

My son was excited about going to San Diego, but he replied, "Why is dad speaking at that conference?"

She responded, "Well, you know dad speaks to businesses all the time so that makes sense."

My son knows our business well, but he was still confused. The two of them continued going back and forth for a bit trying to understand each other.

Finally, my wife uncovered the root of Cameron's frustration. He thought I was speaking at the INKED magazine conference for tattoo enthusiasts not the INC. magazine conference for business leaders!

So, as you can see even in simplest communications our experiences, biases and assumptions create filters that force us to be much more specific that we think we need to be.

Now, translate this communication dynamic to the complex conversations you're having with your team in the daily whirlwind of work. It really requires you to use very specific language if you want to keep your team accountable.

A simple communication tool to ensure specificity is the 3W's (What, Who and When). Use it after meeting or even after any interaction to verify you are in synch with the other party and are clear on your respective responsibilities.