Intention and Impact – “I didn’t mean that!”

It’s interesting how often sport becomes a catalyst for a wider conversation in society about relationships and how we should treat each other.  This year in the UK we have had controversy about whether footballers should take the knee to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and now the crisis engulfing Yorkshire County Cricket Club over their failure to take action about racist comments made by white players towards players of Asian origin. 

Some people say the comments are intended as “banter” and therefore harmless.  But this ignores the impact of the comments.  If the impact is that people are “othered”, and feel excluded from the in-group, then this is harmful – even if it was not intended as harm. 

The Influence Gap

This gap between the INTENTION and IMPACT of our communication affects all our relationships, at work and at home.  We have to work hard to be aware of how our behaviour is landing with the other person – and if it is not landing in the way we intended, then we need to change our behaviour.  It’s helpful to bear in mind that “the meaning of a communication is the response it gets”. 

Here’s a personal example.  On a Friday night, I used to make lots of suggestions to my husband about what we might do at the weekend – brainstorming options comes naturally to me, and I enjoy coming up with ideas.  While this was a positive intention, the impact on him was to make him feel that there was an enormous list of things that we “should” do, while he wanted to rest after a busy and tiring week at work.  

Interaction Styles

This gap between my intention and my impact caused difficulties, until we discovered Interaction Styles and found out what to do differently to close the gap.

How often have you said to someone – “but I didn’t mean that”?  Learn about what drives your behaviour when you interact with others and how to close your influence gap in How to Get On with Anyone.