Intention and Impact

When was the last time you asked yourself how you impact other people (spouse, boss, co-worker, children, etc.)? I find that most of us have honest and wholesome intentions in terms of our behavior towards others. We don’t usually wake up and say “I can’t wait to impact people negatively today”. This is a beautiful part of our humanity, to have and uphold values of care, understanding, support, etc. And it is nice when the impact matches our positive intentions; all is right in the world. That being said, sometimes our intention does not match the impact on others. We may have a positive intention that leaves a negative impact. How is this possible? How could a good intention turn bad? One example from a business that I support: A co-worker wanted some training on another employee’s machine and asked the other machine operator for it. The machine operator said that he would train this person at a certain time. The boss then came in and asked this machine operator to do something else, which distracted the machine operator from following through on the training of his fellow worker (not a negative intention). The worker then became upset at the breech (negative impact) and began to avoid this person (negative intention stemming from a negative impact). This became a great coaching moment in the business for these two workers. The machine operator got to see that he made a misstep in forgetting to follow through and the co-worker was able to see that his negative impact caused him to react negatively. When I asked these two guys if they wanted to impact each other negatively they said an emphatic ‘NO!’. Yet, it happened. When we get triggered by others, we may have an assumption about the intent of the other person, as illustrated in this example. This can lead us to have a negative intention ourselves, which rarely leads to a positive impact. It would be interesting for you to contemplate and potentially ask for ways that we impact others negatively (often inadvertently of course). Methods such as 360 degree feedback instruments get at this in organizations. But you don’t have to be that formal. You can simply be more on to yourself and/or you can ask others. But behold, you must be ready for the feedback you get as it may not be pretty. This is an aspect of our journey to mastery, use it liberally.