Communication breakdown, it's always the same
Havin' a nervous breakdown, drive me insane...
Hey wait! That's the lyrics of a Led Zeppelin song and not what I intended to write here. Oops! I'm sorry for clearly leading you down a road paved with good intentions and although I'd like to say it won't happen again, we all know Mildred does get side-tracked from time to time. What I really had on my mind is discussing a communication faux pas we all are guilty of committing. I know you're all thinking, "What about PET PEEVES #3? Does Mildred only have 2 pet peeves?" The answer to that is...stayed tuned for the next PET PEEVES installment coming real soon!
It's a well known fact that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but in today's world the communication breakdown goes much deeper than just between the sexes. It's virtually everywhere! Most people are frequently caught up in the intention vs. consequences battle of the wits and are clueless when it comes to how to approach the recipient of their failed good intentions. In an article written by Peter Bregman from Harvard Business Review he claims that intention vs. consequences is the root cause of so much interpersonal discord and I have to agree with him.
Mr. Bregman states that "it's not the thought that counts or even the action that counts. That's because the other person doesn't experience your thought or your action. He or she experiences the consequences of your action."
Mr. Bregman goes on to explain that when you've done something that upsets someone-no matter who's right-always start the conversation by acknowledging how your actions affected the other person. Save the discussion about intentions for later. Much later. Maybe never. Because in the end your intentions don't matter much. He also points out that it doesn't matter if you feel the other person is justified in feeling the way he or she does. What a person should be striving for is understanding and not agreement. Once understanding of the consequences is expressed, the need to justify intentions dissipates.
What comes to mind after I read the article is something a sagely person told me many times in my misspent youth. Each time I got defensive and tried to adamantly justify my (good) intentions, he would tell me "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions." It took me many years to realize truer words were never spoken. What I know now is paving any road with good intentions is never worth the effort. What matters most isn't what you intended because let's face it life has a sneaky way of screwing up even the best laid plans. In the long run what matters most is your ability to accept responsibility for your actions. In doing that it somehow helps history from continually repeating itself.