It’s Not Just Clear…It Makes Sense

Once, when visiting prospective universities, our student tour guide enthusiastically showed us around the campus, briefly stopping at points of interest along the way. She was very systematic in how she described the various buildings and facilities, usually starting with a series of facts and specifications and statistics. When stopping at the library she told us it was over 300,000 square feet, had been built in 1961, held over a million books and had online access to tens of thousands more volumes of literature and subscriptions to publications throughout the world. She then paused, looked at the group behind her and asked, “Is that clear?”


Everyone nodded and she resumed talking. This time, she did not mechanically ramble off statistics and facts with her back to us, but stood facing us. She described needing to write a research paper and being able to utilize the library resources to not just research the subject matter from the perspectives of U.S. scholars, but from the perspectives of scholars from around the world. The point here was that university students were expected to be global citizens and have a well-rounded and informed point of view. She completed her narrative with a pause, looked at a few of the group members in the eye, and this time she asked if what she was saying “Make sense?”

After walking through the campus for another 15 minutes, we arrived at the university gymnasium and I listened as our tour guide again took the same approach. We followed behind her in a single file as she told us how the gymnasium is a little under 100,000 square feet, had been built in 1966, has 6 tennis courts, 4 weight rooms, 3 full court basketball courts, swimming pools and so on. She paused and turned to face the first person behind her in the single file line and asked, “Is that clear?”

??????tThen she waited for the group to catch up and comfortably form a semicircle around her as she went on to describe how when she was a student at the university many of her friendships were made at this particular gymnasium, and how attending games there really instilled a sense of belonging and school pride that she still holds dear to this day. Once again she searched our faces, made eye contact with a few of us, and asked if what she was saying “Make sense?”

It dawned on me that the question, “It that clear?” appeals to the rational mind. Facts, statistics, and specifications have to be in place in order to be able to summon all of the rest of our senses.   When someone says, “Make sense”, they are not just asking if or reinforcing that what they communicated is clear, accurate and correct. They are also making sure that it feels right.

It’s rarely enough to be handed a stack of facts and charts and statistics – either on a university tour or at the office. While facts and figures stimulate the rational side of one’s brain and are essential to support any decision or strategy, they are rarely enough to spark passion, motivate behavior or induce loyalty in the face of barriers. Motivation comes from connecting the rational to the emotional in service to a complete pathway of thinking and feeling.

Make sense?

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