People thrive on communication; introverted, extroverted, verbal and non verbal, we all need to be able to communicate with one another in order to survive and succeed. Though sometimes, things get lost in translation. Your intent, the way in which you are communicating, doesn’t necessarily send the messages and signals that help to achieve your desired goals, the impact. Intent vs. impact is not uncommon in human interaction. People can hear things via their own filters, and messages can become misunderstood.
So what happens when your attempts at communication go a bit awry? When your intent doesn’t match up with the intended impact?
Part of being a successful communicator is being able to identify these potential situations. Indentifying these situations starts with awareness and understanding. It is important to try and understand the other parties’ point of view, possible filters and the way in which they may see and hear things. You must adapt your style and messaging to work with these things in order to maintain positive communication and strong relationships.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard Shaw
This is especially true when it comes to workplace communication in the business world. And there’s no sector of the working world to which communication skills are more critical than for those in leadership positions.
A good leader successfully communicates with their employees, building trust, creating understanding, raising awareness and engaging them - guiding them to achieve the company’s goals - as well as their own. The results of a positive communication strategy affect both the long-term sustainability and immediate success of an organization. Clear communication can lead to:
However workplace communication often gets messed up - the wrong thing gets said or the right thing gets said in the wrong way – intent vs. impact. Often nothing gets said – or heard - at all. Not having communication awareness as a leader can be extremely detrimental. It negatively impacts an organization’s people --> performance --> profit™.
A lot of communication mishaps come down to this one issue: intent versus impact. Someone in a leadership position communicates something to an employee, but does so in a manner that doesn’t consider the potential impact, based on how the employee receives the message. We’ve all had that leader (or peer, or friend, or partner) who we know had the best intentions (or at least we gave the benefit of the doubt), but they communicated those intentions in a way that may have been conflicting, terrifying, and unclear.
Thus our feelings and responses to the message resulted in the opposite of what they actually intended. And when we as human beings receive the impact as negative, it shuts us down – it also shuts your employees down. They can feel unheard, uninvolved in the decision process, unappreciated in what they do, and uncertain as to their purpose in the organization.
So how can you avoid making these little mistakes?
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” -Tony Robbins
When you’re leading any group of people, you’ve got to understand how to communicate within a given audience and situation to be most effective. True, no two people or organizations are identical, and thus neither are their communication strategies. However, all in all, clarifying intent vs. impact and developing good communication skills and strategies is a key to success in business – and life!
About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions - an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people --> performance --> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.
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