Thursday, September 12, 2019

Let's Get Clear About Vagueness

Life is complicated. It’s messy. Few things, if any, come wrapped up in nice, neat packages. And every day we face an overwhelming range of demands for our time and attention.

Yet gaining access to more information often obfuscates, rather than enlightens. When we’re challenged to respond coherently, we’re prone to shrug our shoulders as if to say, “I’m overwhelmed. I haven’t even given the matter any thought.” We may hesitate, not knowing how to decide. So, we don’t decide. As a result, we’re noncommittal. That is, we’re vague in terms of our actual response.

It’s no wonder that vagueness is all the rage. It’s a legitimate out in our harried times. We’re all doing our best, but we’re just not ready or willing to commit. So, we remain vague.

The problem is that vagueness has moved from the realm of the defensible to a virtual pandemic. We suffer from the painful consequences. Wherever you turn, it seems, you’re scratching your head and wondering, “what does it mean?”

“Will you come to my party?"

“I don’t know. I’ll try. It depends."

That’s vague.

“Are you interested in my proposal?”

“Well, I may be. I don’t know. I think so.”

That’s also vague.

“What about the terms I’ve outlined for our real estate deal? What about the contingencies?”

“Ah, don’t worry about the details. They will all work out.”

Vague yet again.  

Sure, uses such as these by themselves seem innocuous for the most part.  But add them up: the unclear responses and the less than deft avoidance of certainty. Don’t forget general statements like “it will all work out.” Collectively, they will crush us. We can’t move forward in many instances without clear, definitive guidance. The absence of it frustrates and paralyzes us.

It’s one thing for us as individuals to choose to remain vague about different aspects of our lives. It’s a far different situation when others we rely on fall short.  They insist on vagueness. They dance around real issues as opposed to tackling them head on.

I’ve grown weary of individuals who bask gleefully in oceans of vagueness. Individuals who by their very occupations should get out of those same oceans. I’m thinking specifically of real estate agents, accountants, and lawyers. These professionals, among others, nonetheless attempt to remain above the fray. I suspect they fear they will sully their hands. Heaven forbid, they might make a mistake or lose a client because they committed to a clear course of action. Or perhaps they are just lazy. Far be it from me to discern the true motive behind individual bouts of vagueness.

Vagueness wastes time and energy. It is the enemy of achievement and excellence. Those are qualities I want in my life. I’ve become zealous about ferreting them out in others with whom I work and engage in other areas of my life.


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