Blog #63 Getting Clear About Ambiguity!

Posted on : 23-05-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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According to, one definition of ambiguity that it ” is an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression”. Suffice it to say that an antonym for ambiguity is clarity (clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity).

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of ambiguity? Higher so we can see those of you in the way back row ;D.

Today, I think ambiguity is part of the human condition. It is a skill that many of us learn to survive. Those of us who may have grown up in dysfunctional households (uhum and I’m thinking most of us have) learn that if we’re ambiguous about what we say, we’re less likely to get in trouble and there is more likely an opportunity for us to get approval. For example, we could be ambiguous about what color we prefer, with someone whose opinion matters to us, by our not being definite on our opinion. We could say we prefer beige (instead of rose) which upon listening to and watching for the nuances of the recipient we could easily morph from beige to actually white or maybe yellow or even tan with a hint of brown if the clouds are passing by. If we had clearly said that we prefer the color “rose”, we would then find ourself at risk of disapproval or, God forbid, disappointment with our choice.

I learned at a very young age that ambiguity could be a great platform to exercise my manipulation skills. Why, if I was ambiguous about how I felt about something, I could buy just enough time to find out what the consensus of an individual or group was before I said what I felt. And you know that when I said what I felt in that context, I wasn’t really being honest–unless it happened that the individual or group felt the way I really did.

We then take our ambiguity skills with us into the world of our work. My, my, my can we look around in our office or factory or who we deal with on a day-to-day basis in our working environment and notice where ambiguity is oozing out of the sides like a wafting cloud. When we or someone we work with are clear, you know where you/they stand. And many times if we are guilty of being ambiguous a lot of the time, we can sure get miffed about the person who dares to be clear about who they are or what they want.

To get clear about ambiguity means to say what you mean and mean what you say. Use your words to express how you’re feeling even when you may not understand what you’re thinking. It’s okay to not know. You can “feel” a tug in your stomach. You can feel anger rising up and not know why. And it is okay to say, “I’ve got a tugging feeling in my stomach and I am not clear, yet, the reason” instead of waxing over what you’re feeling in order to save face or keep the peace or a hundred other reasons that actually may not even be the real reason you are being ambiguous.

On a clear day you can really see forever.