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Impact vs. Intent

Successful communication is about far more than the words you use. You may intend to convey one thing, and the other person may get a very different message. Given that, let me ask you something very important: When you enter into a conversation, do you consider impact versus intent?

To answer that, you need to know how you express your emotions. Each of us tends to communicate our feelings in one of four ways. If we have a passive communication style, we often won’t speak up when something is hurtful. Instead, we let those feelings build until we have an outburst (that we then feel shame about).

If we have an aggressive style, we express our needs and opinions without regard for others. We often interrupt frequently and speak in a loud, dominating tone of voice.

If we are passive-aggressive communicators, we may seem outwardly cooperative. But, we often behave destructively—for example, using sarcasm or denying obvious problems.

If we have an assertive style, we advocate for ourselves. But, we do it respectfully, using “I” statements; we don’t violate the needs of others.

Take some time to identify your typical style. That way, the next time you enter a conversation, you will know how you come across. And you can make sure your impact matches your intent.

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