Intention vs. Impact

Intention vs. Impact

We have all heard this notion that what we do or say (intention) isn’t always the way it is received (impact).  Of course what we are after is Intention = Impact.  I think we can all agree with this.

I have found, however, that this notion doesn’t seem to begin on equal footing.  Intention consistently seems to be the one responsible both when understood correctly and when not understood correctly.  I am here to tell you that we need to rethink this notion.   I am not suggesting we flip the coin and hold impact consistently responsible.  I am suggesting, however, that we need to evaluate the situation more thoroughly before we decide who is responsible when misunderstood and who might need to make adjustments.

I was at a restaurant yesterday when two couples sitting across the aisle (yes, they were speaking loud enough for me to hear) were talking about football and one guy is telling the story of a football game he went to with his father.  He subsequently says, “that was the best day of my life.”  His girlfriend sitting next to him must have said something like “you mean your best day wasn’t with me.”  To which he replies, “I categorize them into family best times, social best times etc…for example spending new year’s eve with you was one of my best days too.”  She wasn’t having it.   My point is that his intention wasn’t clearly the impact.  We have decided as a society that it is he who must alter his communication in this situation so that his girlfriend’s feelings won’t be hurt.  And I am here to say that perhaps it is she who needs to not be so sensitive and a bit more understanding.

In essence, when your intention isn’t the impact, evaluate the situation first before you decide you must do it differently.  And the same goes for impact–evaluate the situation first before you decide that someone else should do it differently.  There is not a default page here.

Simply Said

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