“We are wired for connection. But the key is that, in any given moment of it, it has to be real.” -Brené Brown 

We were thrilled by the opportunity to chat again with the Queen of Clarity, Ann Latham. 

The discussion was about her newest book, The Disconnect Principle. 

A continuous struggle in business communication is giving and receiving feedback well. While formulas focusing on behavior and impact may help to a certain degree, we are still left uncomfortable giving feedback, tend to procrastinate or sugar coat our feedback until the message and meaning are lost. 

The Disconnect Principle is as simple as it is powerful: 

“If someone doesn’t do as you expected, all you know for sure is that he or she didn’t do as you expected. Period. There is a disconnect between what you expected and what happened.” 

We are too quick to assume we know the cause of the disconnect: He’s not committed; she’s not reliable; he’s inconsiderate; she needs more training…. and endless speculation that ends the real communication and thwarts the process of realignment.  

Ann’s new work is not a departure from clarity, but a continuation and enhancement.  Ann shares, the best response to a disconnect is “I think we have a disconnect.” Our assumptions, judgements and speculation allow our disclarity to appear as clarity. We claim to know, therefore disrupting discovery into what truly is going on and how we can work together to prevent disconnect in the future. 

A few highlights from this people-centered, collaborative, problem-solving conversation: 

  • Suggestions for making the difficult conversation more objective and less accusatory. This reminds us of one of the principles from the classic Getting to Yes, “separate the people from the problem.” Ann provides several immediately actionable ways to do this. 
  • We do the world great harm when we distinguish between positive feedback and negative feedback. And calling negative feedback constructive or corrective in order to make it sound better does not change the truth that we never should have split feedback into two pieces. All feedback is constructive because that’s how we learn. 
  • Talking constructively and objectively about the situation, while focused on collaborative problem solving, diffuses the tension and takes a lot of fear out of difficult conversations.
  • Redefining accountability, which can be another loaded term that seems to be about pressuring, disciplining, or controlling, can be about collectively establishing commitments, and delivering on those commitments. Doing so allows you to accomplish things collectively that you could never do all by yourself. 
  • Employing the disconnect principle gives us a label and helps us to practice the power of the pause. Step back and say, “We have a disconnect”. It’s ok to name it, be curious, and schedule the conversation for a later time. We can clear our heads of emotion, speculation, judgment, and accusation and come to the conversation with a clear mind to explore the disconnect collaboratively. 

The Disconnect Principle is something we can begin to practice today, as well as something we can build on individually, in relationships and in our broader teams to grow in building better relationships and producing better results.

Follow and connect with Ann: 

Website: www.uncommonclarity.com 


The Disconnect Principle: https://disconnectprinciple.com 

The Power of Clarity: https://power-of-clarity.com/ 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/annlathamuncommonclarity


We are grateful to Ann for sharing her important work with our community of conversation. 

Tom & Adrienne