Ep117: Communication Triage

23 minutes

“You look so beautiful that I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Ever have someone deliver a compliment with that kind of precision and deftness? Sure, there might need to be training to help them better communicate; but listening for intent is just as important. Do you have a culture that assumes best intent, and trains from there?

Why is that important for business? 

Sometimes, you need to be trained to hear the intent behind the words or clumsy phrasing. Just like a good daughter, the training and the culture of your company needs to be such that people are encouraged to acknowledge the intent behind the message before trying to correct it. Especially for people who fail to put the period where it should be in a sentence.

It is important to first acknowledge the best intent, and then give feedback on the delivery. 

It’s also important to create a culture where people can give such feedback to someone to gain perspective on possible intent, even if it’s not the person directly. Sometimes, having another outlet – a safe person – can save hurt feelings. 

It’s easy to say we want to assume best intent, but in practice, it can be challenging. If someone hands you an orange, but to you it’s clearly an apple, you have to be willing to ask: “is this really an apple?”, even if it doesn’t feel like it deserves questioning. Assuming best intent is to wedge a crowbar into something that feels like the truth. It’s hard work to assume best intent. 

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