Your Intentions Matter in Developing Conflict Free Conversations

Have you noticed that your words and actions get misinterpreted by others and do not bring you the outcomes you want? Words and actions can be easily misunderstood. When that happens, I suggest you look at your intentions and attitude. When they are positive and constructive, your interactions will have less conflict and your relationships will be more fun and rewarding.

Conversations with my adult children can be a challenge for me. I remind myself to love and accept them instead of giving parental advice. My intention is to support them without lecturing and making them feel inadequate. I tell myself they do not need “fixing.” When we discuss possible changes they could make, I offer my opinions and then back off. I have to work at keeping my “parent role” in check. At times, I cannot help myself and cross the line, but even then, I think my children feel my love and acceptance. It seems to be working for us.

Communication Theories:

The communication experts encourage you to speak about yourself, not about the other person. (You might say: “I feel disappointed when you act that way.” instead of “Your behavior disappoints me.” In the first, you take responsibility for your feelings, and the second, you are pointing a finger and making someone wrong.” However, speaking from the “I” position (I need, I want, I feel) does not necessarily guarantee a positive outcome. While the words you choose are important, your intention and attitude influence the outcome even more.

When you are trying to get your needs met, give negative feedback, or express opposing viewpoints, intention and attitude speak louder than your words and actions. Two things you can do to maintain connection and accomplish a positive result: 1) Change an intention that makes someone wrong to an intention that offers non-judgmental curiosity; and 2) While you cannot control how another person will respond to you, you can do your best to communicate with clear and constructive intentions, words and actions.

For example: You can say “no” to a friend’s request for help and value the person. Your sense of connection will be louder than your saying “no.” (I want her to know she is important to me.) When expressing opposing viewpoints, you can listen with curiosity and tolerance for differences; the personal connection will remain strong. (I intend to hear what he has to say and avoid a power struggle.) When you are disappointed by someone’s actions, you can ask for what you want without blame or punishment. (I intend to express myself honestly without making her wrong.)

Strategies to Create Empowering Intentions:

  • Become clear about your intention: Ask yourself: “Will my language or behavior empower or diminish this person or group?”
  • Assess whether you have any hidden agendas. Are any unresolved feelings or negative assumptions at play? Unconscious intentions may lead to unexpected challenges.
  • Manage your emotions prior to entering a stressful situation. The more objective you are, the less likely your emotions will take you into a win/lose or right/wrong emotional drama.
  • Match your intentions and attitude to your words and actions. When what you intend is communicated clearly, people are more able to hear you and work with you. (A why questions can sound judgmental or curious: “Why did you do it this way?” Or, “I am curious about what influenced your decision?”)
  • Listen to feedback to be sure your words and actions have been interpreted by the other correctly. If not, try again and be mindful of your intention.

Harmonious, fulfilling relationships do not just happen, they are achieved with mindful awareness and effective communication skills. Let your intention and attitude lead the way as you communicate with authenticity, compassion and power. You will encourage others to feel empowered, not diminished; and your communication will more often than not bring you the outcomes you want with less stress. Your sense of well-being will improve too.

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