Accessible version of Communicating with clarity

The accessible version of Communicating with clarity learning module.

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The Communicating with clarity module will help you to learn how to:

  • How you say things is as important as the words you choose
  • What you say can be interpreted in many ways
  • How you can avoid triggering defensiveness
  • That good communication builds respect and trust

To access the non-conforming version of this module, see Communicating with clarity learning module.

Below is the transcript for the Communicate with clarity YouTube video.


When we communicate with others, it’s important to be careful about not only what we say, but also how we say it.

When you speak loudly, others may think you’re angry or excited.

Speaking in lower tones can come across as threatening or timid.

If your face or body is tense, this can make the other person feel you’re stressed, angry or even aggressive. However, being too relaxed may make you appear bored or dismissive.

Speaking quickly can give the impression you’re being domineering or not open to discussion.

On the other hand, speaking too slowly can seem condescending or intimidating.

If you jump in too quickly with a response, it can feel like you’re interrupting or aren’t interested in their viewpoint.

Choose your words carefully, considering how the other person might perceive them. This helps you to avoid coming across as judgmental, dismissive or argumentative.

Remember: where you place emphasis can completely change the meaning of what you say.

Listen to how different these same statements sound when we change the emphasis:

  • “I don’t know.”
  • “I don’t know.”
  • I don’t know.”

By paying attention to how you communicate, you’ll likely find there is less tension – on both sides of the conversation.


When we communicate with others, it’s important that we’re thoughtful about what we say and also how we say it.

Especially when we’re frustrated or passionate, it’s easy to come across as intense or aggressive, even if that’s not our intention. Pay attention to how you communicate, and you’ll likely find less tension arises on both sides of the conversation.


How loudly or softly are you speaking?

Body language

Is there tension in your face and body?


How quickly or slowly are you speaking?

Don't interrupt

Let them speak.

Word choice

How will your words be perceived?


Do the words you emphasize match your intention?


The intensity with which we deliver our messages affects how others interpret them.

Read each of the following out loud in the manners that are described:

Say the following first in a whisper, then in your regular voice, then say it loudly:

  • Nothing is impossible
  • What do you need from me?

What do you notice when you say these things in different ways?

How might it come across to others?

Say the same sentence again – this time, with your jaw and the muscles in your face tensed, and with your body leaning forward. (Tip: Use a front-facing camera to watch yourself.)

  • Nothing is impossible
  • What do you need from me?

How might this be perceived when you have tension in your face and body?

Try saying these sentences quickly and then very slowly.

  • I’m trying my best to understand.
  • I never said that.

When you say it quickly, how might your tone be perceived?

When you say it slowly, how might that tone be perceived?

As you can see, the intensity with which we speak can change other’s interpretation of what we’re saying.

Tip: If you’re having a hard time managing your level of intensity, take a break from the conversation to allow you to return to communicating with clarity.

Choosing your words

Let’s have a look at the words we choose and how we say them…

Certain words can cause unintended negative reactions. Before you expand the tab, think about how the words and phrases below might be perceived negatively by the person hearing them.

What are some things you should ask yourself as you consider what they’re proposing?

"You always/never..."

Could imply a false generalization.

"You just don't understand."

Could feel like you're judging their intelligence.

"Calm down."

Could feel like dismissal of their emotions.

"Everyone says..."

Could create concern that others are talking about them.

"What's the matter with you?"

Could reinforce self-loathing.

Learning to choose your words carefully can help you avoid these unintended reactions.

It’s also important how you say the words…

Consider how the emphasis on the bolded word may be perceived by others.

Say the following out loud to yourself.

I don’t know.”: This could imply you don't feel responsible.

“I don’t know.”: This could sound like you're frustrated or annoyed.

“I don’t know.”: This could sound like you haven’t made up your mind yet.

I don’t know.”: This could be interpreted as angry or annoyed.

1. To avoid sounding like you’re whining, which word would you emphasize in the statement “I’m trying my best”?

  • Trying
  • Best
  • I'm
  • None of the above


1. None of the above: Putting the emphasis on any word in this sentence could change the way it's perceived. Try saying it with no emphasis to communicate more clearly.

Communicating with clarity avoids misunderstanding

You’ve learned some key concepts to help you communicate with clarity. This can help you say what you mean without others misunderstanding it or perceiving it differently than how you intended it.

You learned that:

  • Speaking too loudly or softly could be perceived as angry, excited, threatening or timid.
  • The level of tension in your face or body could be perceived as stressed, angry, bored or dismissive.
  • Talking too quickly or slowly could be perceived as being domineering, condescending or intimidating.
  • Responding too quickly could be perceived as interrupting or aren’t interested in their viewpoint.
  • Being careless of your choice of words could be perceived as judgmental, dismissive or argumentative.
  • The words we emphasize can significantly change how what we say is perceived.

Knowledge check

See Response below to see the answers to the following questions.

1. Which of the following are NOT part of the key concepts of communicating with clarity?

  • Pay attention to the volume of your speech
  • Always have a smile on your face
  • Be mindful of the emphasis placed on each word
  • Be thoughtful about the pace of your speech

2. What are the key benefits of communicating with clarity?

  • You’re less likely to be misunderstood
  • People are less likely to be defensive
  • It’s easier to build mutual respect and trust
  • All of the above


1. Answer: Always have a smile on your face. It’s not always appropriate to have a smile on your face when you’re talking about something that may be difficult or stressful for the other person. It may be interpreted as patronizing or ridiculing.

2. Answer: All of the above. Even when we don’t intend harm, without communicating with clarity, we risk our intentions being misinterpreted. Sometimes this can cause others to feel offended or become defensive. By communicating with clarity, it’s easier to build mutual respect and trust.

Tip sheet and resources

Congratulations on learning communicating with clarity. We’ve put together a tip sheet with the main learning points of this module. We recommend you save or print it as a reference. There are also free resources you can use if you want a deeper dive on this subject.

View the Communicating with clarity tip sheet | PDF

Communicating with clarity webpage

Communicating with clarity YouTube video.

We welcome your feedback on this module or any of our resources. Please contact us with your suggestions.



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