On Clear Communication

By | November 30, 2021

[November 30, 2021]  I was sitting on a chair overlooking an Army-level tabletop exercise conducted in South Korea.  The array of U.S. and Republic of Korea military forces were across the Korean peninsula and seas.  Impressive!  But could we understand what the commander wanted?  Would clear communication work this time?

What the symbology and geography told me was not what the commander wanted.  He had to articulate that himself.  His own words mattered a great deal, only by telling us what he wanted, could we understand our responsibilities in the upcoming military event.  Our commander was the best person I ever listened to that could make something complex, seem simple.

I learned a few things that day and here are a few of them:

  1. If you can be misinterpreted or misunderstood, you can be assured that you will be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
  2. At least half of the people you speak to will not understand what you’re saying.
  3. You are responsible for any failure to communicate.
  4. Understand your audience, educate them, watch their reactions, and tell them the truth.
  5. Set the right tone, use the right words, proper dictation and pronunciation.
  6. Be concise but not too much or you will fail to communicate important items.
  7. A logical order works best.
  8. Language barriers are often cultural but also social and educational, so beware.
  9. Ensure the audience has their heart in what you are telling them.
  10. Provide complete honesty, they will know if you’re faking it.
  11. Know your subject matter forward and backwards.
  12. Unclear concepts and overuse of acronyms, buzzwords, and jargon hurts communication.
  13. Assumptions will kick your butt.
  14. Faulty or incorrect definitions will confuse.
  15. Lack of preparedness hurts your delivery. Practice, practice, practice.

Oh, there are a lot more where these come from.  I plan to write a series on clear communications – starting soon.  These articles will include specific ways to ensure better ways to get your message across.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “On Clear Communication

    1. Doug Smith

      Hey Gen. Satterfield, great work on this article. But I would like to see you focus more of your articles on junior leaders instead of senior leaders. That way, more people can get to know you and your leadership philosophy.

  1. Erleldech

    Clarity is something we do not practice. Whether writing or oral presentations, confusion and wordiness is encouraged while clarity is discouraged. Politicians are best at confusion. THey don’t want to be held accountable for something wrong in the future.

  2. Guns are Us

    Excellent list and I also look forward to it. Hey, Gen. Satterfield, when are you going to have Army Vet, Sadako Red, and some of your best contributors back on your website? I miss them.

      1. Mikka Solarno

        Real men? Very few these days. World is full of sissy men like US Gen. Mark Milley. What a wuss!

  3. Willie Strumburger

    One might think that clear communications is easy. Just say what you mean. Well, not so. It takes a lot of work, some good habits, and a clear head. Remember Gen. Satterfield has given us rule No. 1. And remember it for if you don’t, you will not be a successful leader.

  4. old warrior

    #13. Assumptions will kick your butt.
    Now that is what I want to read more about.

  5. Georgie B.

    The unanswered question is why do we need clear communication? That is, yes, self evident. But it also means spelling this out in some detail. There are many articles on the Internet on the subject, yet I believe that Gen. Satterfield will bring a new view on communications and why it is so needed, esp. in our crazy world today.

    1. lydia truman

      … yes, Georgie B. I think this is a good thing. I’ve also heard that Gen. Satterfield is writing a new book on leadership for young adults. Wow, I will buy it for my neighbor’s kid.

        1. Silly Man

          Are you a real commie? Or is that just your handle? Asking for a friend.

    1. Plato

      Thanks corralesdon, I bought my book and am about half way thru it now. Great book. I highly recommend it. Don’t forget to give it a Like and comment, comment, comment.
      “Our Longest Year in Iraq” by Gen. Doug Satterfield.

      1. Laughing Monkey

        Our Longest Year in Iraq. Now, is that a title or what. Makes you want to read the book right away. I’ve been told that the book is written just like Gen. Satterfield talks. It gives a sense of a leader of men in war and a person who can tell a story like it really happened.

        1. Army Captain

          Right, don’t let the basement dwelling, liberal (anti-American) historians tell the story because, like the Vietnam War, they will get it wrong.

        2. New Girl #1

          Book looks a great one to read for my High School class. Where do I get it?

          1. Goalie for Cal State

            You can pick it up at Amazon.com. Just follow the link given by Gen. Satterfield at the end of his article. Best of luck.

    1. Eric Coda

      “At the basic level, effective communication is the exchange of thoughts, information, ideas, and messages between people or groups. But it’s not communication unless the transmission is understood by the receiver. Communication can occur verbally, nonverbally, in writing, and through behavior as well as by listening and using feedback.” This is the lead in paragraph for the article. Nothing new here, I hope Gen. Satterfield can improve upon this.

    2. Linux Man

      Yes, many decent articles out there but it takes reading a couple of dozen before you can get a real understanding of it. Or, you can read Gen. Satterfield website and gain a faster understanding and appreciation.

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        You got that right, Linus Man. Read this website daily for your dose of leadership. Gets me going.


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