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June 26, 2016

I have to tell you the truth about your communication...

"That's what I thought she said."

How many meanings does that sentence have?

CLICK HERE to submit your answer and win a prize.

Can't wait? CLICK HERE to find out now...

Listen closely, because the answer to this question is the root of most conflicts in business.

It's the breeding grounds of frustration, tension, and resentment. It's one of the most overlooked blocks to creating a Team on Fire.

It's the incredibly important difference between "intention vs. impact."

Very often we intend to say or express one message, but the impact of our communication has a totally different effect.

Aydes was a popular dieting chocolate brand in the 70's and 80's. All was good until AIDS became a hot topic. Their tagline was "Thank Goodness for Aydes!" Ooops! They certainly didn't have that intention when they first started their marketing. Let's just say that the company had to quickly reinvent themselves ASAP. 

In Africa a high percentage of the population is illiterate. Many only know what's contained in a package by the picture on the outside. So you can imagine how horrified they were when they saw Gerber baby food being sold with a picture of a baby on the jar!

         Check out my absolute favorite and funniest intention vs. impact misfire story.

See, when it comes to "intention vs. impact" misfires in relationships, it's important to remember that most people aren't evil. They're really not out to "get you." But what often happens is a communication breakdown where everyone feels hurt and misunderstood.  

Why? Because the words we say can have completely different meanings depending on the context in which they're said and how the receiving party interprets them.

Read on to get a glimpse of a real-world communication screw up.  

Let's take a couple of our members like Steve and Jennifer. Steve is the classic "I", Influencer. (This is based on the DISC personality model. Learn more about DISC here.) He is all about relationships, your classic social butterfly. He is enthusiastic and loves to collaborate. Not surprisingly, he's one of the best sales reps.

Then there's Jennifer, a high "C", for Conscientiousness, who appropriately is the company's accountant. She works deliberately and thrives on consistency. Jennifer produces highly accurate work at a steady pace.

Steve screwed up, big time.

Here's what happened. Jennifer asks Steve for his sales report which was actually due last Wednesday. Seemingly "all of the sudden", Steve gets bent out of shape. He shoots a quick email back that he's working on a very important sale right now. He'll get it to her later. It's just not that important.

Jennifer is bewildered. She defensively responds that she doesn't care. She needs the report now. In fact, she needed it last week. It doesn't matter if he's closing a deal with Warren Buffett. She needs that report! Steve says that she clearly doesn't "get it," because without him closing sales, she wouldn't have a job. Her priorities are way out of whack. To which Jennifer shoots back that without her he wouldn't be able to hold a job!

Ouch! Neither of them intended on being a jerk, but things spiraled out of control and before they knew it they were hurling insults back and forth.

Why? What happened that caused such a massive communication breakdown?

You got it. Intention vs. impact misfire.

See, when Jennifer asked Steve for the sales report, she intended to simply request a late report. She operates in the world of deadlines, so it's a no brainer that she has the "right" to request (or even demand) an overdue report. So she was completely thrown for a loop when Steve responded angrily.

What Jennifer didn't understand was the impact of her request. Steve felt unappreciated and criticized. She essentially told him that he's doing a lousy job.  

Be honest with yourself. Does your team ever think you're a jerk (or vice versa) and you have no clue why?

You're probably like nearly every leader I've worked with who has frequent intention vs. impact misfires. (Including myself! Read on...)

You need our 3 words solution to getting past these misfires.

Why? Because it's actually proven to increase sales. This isn't just touchy-feely time. 

Learning how to avoid and overcome these misfires will make you more profitable. Your team will be engaged and energized. You'll be able to effectively delegate and trust your employees. Your team's tenure rates will improve. You'll save time and money. Best of all, you'll get your way. ;)


Here are the 3 simple words: "Cross the bridge."

Humble yourself and get into the other person's space in a Courageous Conversation. Be big enough to get out of your own head and into someone else's. Ask what went wrong and how the other person perceived what you said. Be open and explain where you were coming from as well.

"My intention was X, but I see that you understood my words as Y."    

This isn't just theoretical advice I'm giving you. I personally had an "intention vs. impact" misfire last week! Here's how I overcame it.

We at Brand Launcher have daily and weekly check-ins to facilitate collaboration, brainstorming, and breaking bottlenecks. Last week, on our weekly hour long call I asked the team to work together to flesh out some of our strategic goals as a company.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, I saw a team member shut down. His body language was screaming that he was uncomfortable and not pleased with the conversation. At first, I got frustrated. What's wrong with him? I'm entitled to initiate a strategic conversation- right?  

Then I thought about it. After the meeting, I picked up the phone and had a Courageous Conversation.

I asked him what went wrong and then it was all clear. He doesn't like surprises. See, I wanted to maximize our meeting time, but what I forgot was that I didn't tell anyone ahead of time what the agenda for the call was. He felt like this was sprung on him and was put on the spot, which nobody likes.

By having an open, honest conversation and "crossing the bridge" we were able to understand where the other was coming from. Not only did we not end up in a fight, we actually learned to appreciate each other better as we gained a new insight into the other individual.

"That's what I thought she said."

How many meanings do you hear?

GO HERE to submit your answer and win a prize.

Can't wait? Find out the answer HERE. 


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman