I Want to Help, Does This Help?

Ratika Gore

Author: Ratika Gore

Date: Sun, 2016-09-04 17:28

“This work is unacceptable! Surely you are capable of more hard work!”

I remembered saying this to my niece… perhaps sometimes a watered down version of it to a student too.

I was sitting in the recently held workshop in the faculty lounge when I thought about this. The team from the Center of Creative Leadership, Singapore had come to campus to conduct a 2-day workshop on effective leadership styles for faculty. There was one concept that personally impacted me tremendously, that was this concept of ‘Intention – Impact Gap’.

Let’s go back to what I remember saying to my niece “This work is unacceptable! Surely you are capable of more hard work!”. She would judge the communication on the impact it made on her. The take-away message for her would be “It’s never enough for my aunt ”, “Of course I have put in hard work, what does she know”, “Doesn’t she know I am a good student, why is she pushing me”?

On the other hand, I would judge the same communication on the intention I have behind what I say. The message I would feel I am giving out is “I care for you, I know you are capable of more”, “I don’t want you to accept mediocrity for yourself”, “You have to learn to push yourself”.

The gap lies here, right here between the intention and the impact. This gap you will find at the core of so many communication breakdowns, misunderstanding between otherwise objective people. How many times have you said something and have found the recipient reacting differently to what you expected? How many times have you thought about what your boss or a colleague has said and wondered if they were in their right mind. On a larger scale, many leaders create paths to changes in their organisations but very often they see slow results or serious resistance to changes.

So how does one work around it? The key to reducing the gap works two ways. If you communicate your intention, there is a high chance the listener will be more receptive to what you are saying. The other equally important way is to ask for feedback to understand the impact. A simple “Tell me what you feel about this” can open doors to far richer and effective conversations. A leader can communicate the intention or the logic behind a new policy and equally importantly genuinely seek feedback to understand the impact on the people and organisation.

On a personal level, how would it help me change the way I communicate? Going back to what I said to my niece, if I could go back in time I would probably have said something different, perhaps something like;“You know I care for you and that I feel you are capable of more. I really want to help you and I feel perhaps this one time you have not pushed yourself. I think this work is unacceptable. Surely you are capable of more hard work. Do you feel the same way?”

 

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Comments

It is good that we are discussing how to reduce the Intention – Impact Gap. The author very well described the impact of the gap that’s created on individuals, seldom. In this blog, I want to emphasize upon the way of communication described by the author. I agree with her point of view about how to reduce this gap. But I believe this is possible with positive feedback rather than giving negative feedback. Both ways described here has individual impacts and equal importance. Both are correlated. Let me start with communicating your intention. We all can agree that belief is a strong word. Positive believe can drive person and make the person do what they are believing. A large number of examples are available such as physically challenged people, who have achieved success with a positive belief in themselves. Every human has own unique sense of understanding. If we want to make a positive impact on our intention, first we have to make them believe in us. By communicating our intention of how we want to help, we are gaining their trust. If a person really convinces with the same way we describe, He or she will come on board else communication can be triggered to identify the root cause. Many time people don’t get the idea and show resistance or unwillingness to discuss. In addition to this, we have to keep in mind that human can take small steps easily and grow rather taking big leaps. This depends on how we are communicating our intention. We may choose to divide person improvement target with a number of intermediate small targets. Once she achieved small one or two milestones, you can simply say to her that you achieved this level now, next target to achieve improve at this level”. Here we are making her believing in our story first with showing a success. This will also help us building confidence in her and ultimate she will try to be in see as per our point of view. After the success, we gave positive feedback rather than using harsh language. Ask your feedback is another important way to help us to reduce intention- impact gap. We observe this in our everyday life. In most of the corporate success stories, we find many such examples. How involvement and feedback exercise helps the organization. The same applies to personal life as well. I am trying to emphasize on author’s view with positive feedback lens. This requires to communicate our intention rightly. Also, this makes us nurture our own create brand image of own to create impact. This helps to reduce targeted intention- impact gap.

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