Do you have trouble saying exactly what you mean? Perhaps you are afraid of offending someone. Perhaps you aren’t sure yourself. Perhaps it is just a habit. Regardless, failing to practice clarity is a problem, causing misunderstandings and casting you as the problem.
The lack of clarity is more prevalent than warranted. Think of the person complaining about how cold the room is instead of asking for the thermostat to be raised, or the person who interjects a lot of wishy-washy words in an attempt to soften a statement. In addition to being confusing, this kind of speech can have unintended consequences.
Wishy-washy words make the speaker sound uncertain. The listener wonders what the real message is. Chances are the listener will guess at the message, choosing one to their liking of course. A salesman says a decision is needed “soon”, the prospect asks to be notified when and proceeds with other work, and the salesman is upset because he really meant it was needed now and the sale was lost. A parent tells a child he “may” agree, and the child takes it as a yes before the parent makes a decision. “Soon” and “may” are wishy-washy words. Other such words include “perhaps”, “maybe”, “some day” – you get the picture. These words leave the listener wondering exactly what is meant. They are ambiguous. They never pass a clarity test.
Complaints and criticism also commonly fail the clarity test and cause misunderstandings. Criticisms frequently have requests hidden inside, and since that request is not verbalized people tend to hear it as simply a negative statement. When a person complains about the room temperature, listeners are likely to ignore it as negative. If the speaker really were cold, the better solution would be to request the thermometer be changed; that shows a willingness to take care of oneself and is more positive. When the boss criticizes a report you slaved over, you might take it as a failure when in fact the boss was really looking for you to do something.
When you lack clarity in your message, you open the door for misunderstandings. You are at risk of being labeled as negative, a complainer or a problem. It is up to you to speak up for your self and say what it is you really mean. And if someone is unclear with you, ask a few polite questions to get to their real meaning. Of course, always be respectful.