Content and Intent is all you need

I’ve worked it out.  After running hundreds of programs on how to communicate well, give and receive feedback, and doing all the research, I am convinced that all we need are two things to get this right. Some would say, you’ve dummed it down.  I would suggest, I’ve smartened it up.

I’ve got the simple formula so we can understand how to make this crazy thing we call communication easier.  There’s just two components that we need to get right to create remarkable communication and therefore great relationships and we make robust decisions.

If we pursue these two things with as much rigour as we pursue our own self obsession (tongue in cheek but not really) we would be legends in the conversation space. 

  1. Content is what you say
  2. Intent is not just how you say it. It stems from why you are saying it.

Content is the easy bit.  Yes it is.  This is how we prepare and structure the conversation.  We can learn this quite easily.  Really.  This is making sure we have enough examples and facts, have audited our opinions and feelings to make sure they are relevant and helpful, and are discussing consequences of inaction or actions, to name a few.

We hear the content.  Yet we smell the intent.

In the words of John Lennon; “All you need is love”.  Intent can be described much the same.  If we enter in to a conversation with the right attitude, the right posture towards the other person and a kindness to yourself then it dramatically reduces tension and improves the outcome.

If the content is poor and the intent is not from a good place then we have ‘damaging’ conversations which therefore damage relationships and trust and respect.  This is not a good place.

If we walk into the conversation with great intent and have the best (authentic) intentions in place yet don’t work on what we need to say, then the conversations and therefore outcomes are ‘aimless’.  We have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the interactions but don’t really talk about what we need to.

When we make the time to work the structure of the conversation, yet don’t take responsibility for why we are having the conversation, it comes across as ‘transactional’.  Things are clear yet there is little connection between people.

If someone is talking to you and taking full responsibility for their reactions, thoughts and actions (intent) and they have prepared well, the conversations become ‘remarkable’.

10% of conflicts are due to difference of opinion (content).  90% due to tone (intent). 

I used to work with a colleague who was let’s say… controlling when running team meetings.  The agenda was not to be hijacked with items unless sent prior, people were told to be short and to the point and he was quite comfortable cutting people off if what they were saying was not relevant.  I decided to give him some feedback about his leadership style and that he was making people feel unheard and they were nervous to speak up.  Bottom line was, he was annoying me and I believed the rest of the team.  I went into the conversation ‘right’ about my stance and justified in my frustration.

Lucky for me he was gracious.  He listened well, thanked me for my feedback and explained why he ran the meeting this way.  You know what?  It made sense.

Upon reflection, what I was doing was trying to manipulate the situation.  It was really me that didn’t feel heard, and me that needed to plan prior to the team meetings and me that needed to walk in with an open mind and just have a chat.  Not a rant.

Our opportunity to grow remarkable conversations, and therefore remarkable relationships, where stuff gets done, is working on YOU first.

Moving from self ‘awareness’ to self ‘acceptance’ of all your humanity (good and bad) will help us become the expert ‘authority’ in how to communicate.  An authority where people come to you as the leader in not just your space but a leader of people.

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