S:1356 Distinction: Declare vs. Explain

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


There is nothing wrong about explaining or being willing to explain. Explaining is frequently the right tool when teaching, leading, managing. When you teach you transfer knowledge (and maybe even wisdom!). The person or group knows more than before your explanation. Fair enough.

But there are situations in which explaining only slows things down, creating speed bumps instead of smoothing the path. Declaring is a useful alternative in those situations.

Declare when action needs to happen NOW. Emergencies sometimes need action more than education. You can educate in a post-emergency debriefing. Think about directing someone to perform CPR chest compressions on a person without a pulse. “Just do what I tell you. I’ll explain it later.”

Declare when it is a one-time event, and a transfer of knowledge (explaining) is unlikely to be called on again. “Be at the checkpoint at 8:00 sharp. We’ll go in together.”

Declare when you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you know you can’t explain it. (This was intended to be a bit of humor, then I thought of politics and TV talking heads. An eye-roll goes here.)


Coaching Point: When have you correctly used a declaration instead of an explanation?


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