Communication in Teams: Intent Vs. Impact

Posted April 26, 2013 by Ferne Sofio in On the Ladder
We have all been there or observed an interaction gone awry. The words came out wrong. Being in a hurry, maybe the tone of your voice was a little less than pleasant.

If you were the speaker, did you recognize the misstep and make amends? If you were the person on the receiving end, did you react, avoid, or handle the situation with grace?

Every day we engage others in conversations. As the pace and complexities of the workplace increase, communication is bound to break down from time to time. Simply put, communication is a process of people sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings in a commonly understandable way.
Communication is a two-way street – speaking and listening. A breakdown happens when the impact of a message is not the same as the intent of the message.

Here are some common challenges in communication (Magid, R., SoundBoard Consulting Group, LLC):

1.      The speaker’s ability to clearly express self
2.      The listener’s ability to hear what is actually said
3.      Intentions of the people are not always known
4.      One or both parties may make incorrect assumptions or judgments

Ineffective communication can be the first step towards becoming a dysfunctional team. Over time, trust and accountability are diminished and can ultimately lead to reduced productivity and wasted resources – human and financial.

So, how can tell if your message’s intent and impact aligned? According to Daniel Goleman, the authority on Emotional Intelligence, most people do not explicitly state how they feel (especially in the workplace); it is up to you to read the non-verbal signs. It is important to remind ourselves that good intentions do not negate negative impact.

When you realize your intent and the impact were not in sync at work, with friends, or at home, fortunately there are a few easy steps that you can take to arrive at a positive solution:

1.      Assess what happened
2.      Take responsibility for your actions
3.      Be honest about your intention
4.      Work to understand the other person’s perspective
5.      Find out how you can handle the situation differently
6.      Make amends

Career Girls, this process will help you be an even better team member and leader. Words can pack a lot of power. Strong communication skills are essential to healthy, positive relationships.

About the Author

Ferne Sofio

Ferne Sofio believes in strengthening organizations and communities by developing people. For over fifteen years, she has mentored people young and more experienced to help them unlock and reach their potential. She values the unique qualities that make us different knowing we are much more alike than different. The analytical side of her brain aligns initiatives with organizational goals and key strategic drivers. To pursue her passions and begin a new chapter in her career, Ferne acquired a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. While the majority of her career was in marketing, management, and sales. Today, she leverages her experience, education, and strengths as a Training and Development Business Consultant in higher education. This role is a tremendous opportunity to build strong teams and impact organizational culture. She also connects people in business and industry with training and education, which have the power to transform lives.