3 Tips for dealing with Ambiguity

How do you deal with ambiguity? That is a one question I bring up these days when I interview job candidates. It is an interesting question because it does not have clear boundaries on its own and how the candidate answers the question tells me a lot. So, what is the deal with this question anyways?

Well, do you ever give thought to how your team handles situations when no clear direction is given? We live in a disruptive world where change is not only constant but rapid. We need people who know how to deal with uncertainty and risk. This skill is an essential currency in the modern working environment unless your work culture is staffed with cookie cutter employees. Here are 3 tips for dealing with ambiguity.

Admitting and Accepting It

There is no need pretending like the Elephant is not in the room. Personally you need to come to terms with the lack of clarity and if possible surface it up to stakeholders. This minimizes any unnecessary pressure.

Getting Organized

Here is where you get to work. What is known? What are the assumptions? Get clear on those and articulate them very clearly. Figure out what you have to start with and It might be a good place to ask questions like the 5 Whys.

Experimenting and Learning

Now you need to take some actions based on what is known and prep your mind for feedback. The act of experimentation allows you to sharpen your focus. It helps to raise the level of clarity.

There are wrong ways to deal with ambiguity. You would want to watch out for the following

  • Rushing to conclusions without reasonable amount of data
  • Ignoring feedback
  • Ignoring history or precedent

In a nutshell, clarify what information you have at the moment and take action while adjusting based on feedback.

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