What does it mean for something to have an impact?
Impact means “when one object comes forcibly into contact with another” it can also mean “a marked effect or influence.”
The first definition feels painful the second may be more of a potential positive. For example when I think of forcible contact I think if times when I have been in contact with people that have been pushy negative, hurtful. When I think of the second I think of people who have made me think.
When we speak of being intentional it is about considering what impact you want to have. Not just spitting out a heap of words, but thinking about what impact you want to have on this person or situation.
Do you want to encourage, teach, give feedback, chastise, hurt, make someone laugh, what is your intention? This question is particularly important when there is either some tension or confusion in a relationship or when the conversation is rather important.
The goal of any communication is to impart knowledge and change something. Otherwise why bother? I wonder though….. how often do you stop and think “what impact am I having here?”
In my experience, we do not stop to consider this often enough. When running training organisations on becoming better communicators it is often a subject that comes up “who is the best judge of your communication skills?”
Many times I will have senior staff say, “I am”. When we delve deeper it is apparent that these people have not stopped to consider their impact. They believe that because they have strung some words together that is enough.
There is so much more to it. Things like emotion, tone, body language, the context of the situation, the history between the two parties, your intention and different communication styles. All of these things need to be considered to ensure you get the outcome you are intending.
Have you ever said something and the response you got as completely out of context with what you said? This used to happen much more often to me which, I am sure is part of why I decided to become more intentional.
I used to walk into a room hand son hips ready to get into the issues of the day, thinking I cam across as friendly and proactive when my team thought I was scary and confrontational. Two very different scenarios, wouldn’t you agree? How did we get around this? I began to learn about different communication styles, as I was frustrated that I was not being understood. I thought, “there has to be a better way?”
Impact is the first in the process of intentional communication and is particularly important if you have an important conversation that needs to occur. Take the time to consider what you wish to day, what your intention is, to ensure that your impact matches your intent.
Next time we will discuss the second stage in detail – the effect of the impact or wound.
Until next time Care, Connect and be and Intentional Communicator
Let’s improve the world one intentional conversation at a time