What Is Your Intention?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 27, 2014
Who doesn’t understand how Facebook works? In essence, it’s more a a true social sharing site where you can connect with friends and family and, if you’re lucky, do a little bit of business on there. While some people think it wastes a lot of their time, which is probably true, some like me feel grateful for the opportunity to connect with family that I rarely got to see in my life, and talk to friends old and new that I might never have been able to connect with again if it wasn’t there.
A couple of nights ago I decided to share with some of those people (nearly 700 from what I can remember, though that many won’t ever see it) the number of pills I’m taking each night. Diabetes, leg pain, other stuff; hey, it’s what we do. Most people offered some kind of comment here and there, which is to be expected when one shares stuff like this.
However, one guy wrote “So?” I wasn’t sure what that meant, and it’s one of those things where you’re left to your own devices to figure out what the person’s trying to say.
I responded back “Are you saying you take more pills than this each night?” His response back was “No, why?”
Well, that wasn’t very helpful. So I responded “Just felt like you were putting me down for taking so few pills that I thought maybe you were taking more.”
His response back? “LOL. What do you want us to know about taking these pills?”
My response: “Is everything someone posts supposed to be educational? If there’s no contribution to the submission is it helpful, potentially hurtful? Maybe it needs an enhancement such as “lol” or smiley face so the reader understands they’re not being put down for what they do because, at least for some of it, they have to do it? Just asking of course. Trust me, it won’t get much better than this being connected to me. lol”
His final response: “I don’t know what you are trying to say.”
Of course not. When I thought about it I realized that he has no real idea of my intention for sharing anything about my life with people (though why be connected with me or even comment on it if that’s the case?) and, probably not having an idea of how to say it any better than he did, came back with what he could, and in the end couldn’t understand my intention because he couldn’t express his intention.
I don’t say that to demean him in any way. I use this as the type of example of what goes on when people have different agendas or different thoughts on something but not comparable conversational skills to communicate with each other. It doesn’t mean either person is lacking in knowledge; it does mean each person is lacking in… well, I really don’t know what to call it specifically.
For instance, if a manager comes up with a new policy that seems like it’s out of the blue, and they’re asked why and the response is “because” or something similar, we’d all believe it’s an unsatisfactory answer. Yet, is it because the manager is incompetent? Does the manager lack communication skills? Is the manager doing what he or she was told by someone they report to? Or does the manager have some other intention that they either can’t or won’t share for whatever reason?
For that matter was there an intention at all? If there’s no good reason for waking up one day and deciding on a policy change that affects nothing, is that a reason or just a response? Are all responses reasons, or even reasonable? I’m not smart enough to answer that question.
I am smart enough to say this though. If you’re going to be a good leader you need to make sure people understand your intentions for doing something. Employees are not children who may not be capable of understanding why you’re telling them right from wrong. If you feel that way about your employees either they need to be dismissed or you do.
If you’re just talking to someone else, have an intention behind it. Are you trying to get to know them better? Are you trying to help them or hurt them? Are you having a bit of fun? No one likes cryptic messages, and if that’s the best you can do, I recommend the book Crucial Conversations, which I found illuminating and you might as well.