Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Managing the gap between intent and impact

Giving negative feedback is never easy for most of us. It takes a big man (or woman) to hear bad news about ourselves and take it on the chin. The fact is most of us find negative feedback a subtle form of attack and up go the defences. It doesn't make any difference if the feedback is right or wrong - our primordial selves are programmed for fight or flight if we perceive incoming.

One of the most common defences is the 'Intent Defence', for example  "I didn't mean to upset the team", or "Its not what I was trying to do..." or even "I was trying to help her". All these are defences of intent vs impact. We didn't mean to upset someone else but somehow we ended up doing so. Most (all?) of us have hugely positive intent but somehow our impact was different on our off days.

When we are giving feedback therefore, the territory to operate on is impact rather than intent. While we can acknowledge and even understand the positive intent in someone's actions, its the gap between this and their actual impact that we need to focus on. Otherwise we are setting up our feedback sessions for stalemate and stand-off's.

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