By Linda Gray, Senior Vice President Executive Search
Often times we confuse intent and impact. Some of the best-intentioned people don’t realize they are neither sending the right message nor creating the impact they desire. It can act as a demotivator for those receiving the unintentional effect.
If you have ever had someone say to you, ‘this isn’t your best work’ or ‘your numbers are down, get them up’, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Even if your boss intended to motivate you by saying these things, their good intent never outweighs the negative impact. You wind up with a demotivated employee and a struggling relationship with your boss. That’s the danger of getting intent vs. impact wrong.
We have all heard someone say, ‘her heart was in the right place’. Where someone’s heart is has zero to do with the impact. And, to the person on the receiving end of impact gone wrong, where your heart is makes little to no difference. Remember Maya Angelou’s saying, “…people remember how you made them feel”? Enough said.
You see, the key to making the right impact is all about your mindset not your intent. Decide what outcome you want and then how to deliver the message. Far too often we jump to deliver a message and then have to live with the outcome.
Five Steps to Create Positive Impact:
- Define your Desired Impact – It sounds obvious, but is all too often overlooked: ask yourself, “how do I want this message to land with the person(s) receiving it?” Make sure you have the intended impact clear in your mind, even write down the desired impact and how you want people to feel when they walk away.
- Know your Audience – Now that you are clear on your desired impact, it is critical to take time to think about your audience. Who is your audience? How do they process information? What is important to them? No matter how badly you want your message to be well-received and impactful, if you don’t take the time to know your audience, you’ll miss the mark.
- Be Agile – Be prepared to pivot your delivery if it’s not landing well or if an audience member throws a curveball question. Stay focused on your intended impact but be ready to go with the flow in the room. Your audience will respect your ability and willingness to ebb with their tide.
- Be Understanding – Being on the receiving end of a message is vulnerable space. After all, the receiver has no idea what you are about to say. They don’t yet know your intent or your intended impact. They haven’t had time to prepare a response, to decide how they feel, or to digest the information. Allow them the benefit of absorbing the information. Assume good intent on their part, as you are hoping they will do with you.
- Be Vulnerable – Vulnerability builds trust. If you need to deliver a tough message to someone, consider briefly sharing an experience when you had some growing pains, when you didn’t make a good decision, when you made a mistake, or you weren’t proud of yourself. Create a safe space in the conversation for an exchange of humanity.