I seem to have found myself talking to teams and also individuals during coaching about how their actions have been misread / misunderstood and caused problems. Recovering from these incidents can be tricky for people as they feel things have ‘got personal’.
So I found the way through was to ask about their intentions. Sometimes people need a while to think about this, but they are always able to articulate what it is they are trying to do / achieve / change in the scenario. And it is always positive and constructive. When I then ask them how the other person (s) would behave towards them if they understood this very positive intention – then again, the answer is virtually always positive (“Oh – they’d be really happy to support me / or debate constructively / or help”).
So what’s the problem? I think it is because we are so busy that we act first and expect others to quickly and easily understand or interpret our intentions. Of course they don’t, and it is even more tricky with e-mail. So the recipe is to ensure that you explain your intentions first, then this becomes the filter for people to respond to your actions. Without this filter in place, then all they have is one of their own filters – and people have many to choose from based on past experience of you, your reputation, their mood etc etc.
Some of the most successful, constructive and innovative sessions I have seen have been where groups have been really clear about their common intentions and then robustly challenged each other’s views/ideas/perspectives to get an even better collective outcome. Without challenge there is little innovation......
It’s a basic idea – but then when we’re busy we do forget the most basic things. Which reminds me.........better get some lunch (written at 15:33pm!)