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What is your impact?


Twice recently, people who know me quite well have said “you like to be in control, don’t you?”.  Now, as somebody who is very happy to not be in the limelight and to not have the loudest voice in the room, I was little taken aback – somewhere between “huh?” and “whaaat?”.

However, as this feedback came from more than one person and because it came from people whose opinions I value, I eventually thought “How interesting…  This needs some further thought.”  So (as per last week’s email suggestion), I took the topic for a walk.

Intent and Impact

It’s easy to think that everyone experiences the world in the same way.  This is simply not true.  Imagine that we are all looking into the same kaleidoscope, with the same pieces, but that the pieces are slightly dislodged each time someone else looks into it and they therefore see a new pattern.  This is how differently we each can experience the same thing.

In coaching, we talk a lot about intent versus impact.  Taking some time to consider this can build a lot of self-awareness.  

At its core, this is about seeing things from other people’s perspectives (or, at least, trying to).  If someone says something to me that doesn’t land well (negative impact), it is highly likely that their intent was not negative.  Similarly, if I say something with a positive intent, that does not mean that the impact on others will always be positive.

I decided to unpick my “being in control” conundrum with this in mind.

First of all, I thought about the intent of the people that had said this to me.  I know that their intent was not negative.  So why had it had a negative or dissonant impact on me?

My conclusion here was that it comes down to the use of the word “control” which, for some reason, has a negative connotation for me.  I hear “controlling”.  This is not what my friends were saying.  It was helpful to firstly acknowledge this fact.

I then looked at reasons that my friends might see this desire to be in control within me.  This was harder until I remembered the context of the conversations.

Driven by Values

I have written about Values many times and how powerful they are in driving our behaviours.  Other people don’t see our Values.  They are hidden, below the surface, unseen.

When you’re living into your Values, you feel authentic, congruent and strong.  They are a driving force and it’s almost impossible to act against them.  But, here is the thing: we all have different values.

The context of the conversations with my friends was one where I was describing living out one of my top Values: independence.  To me, independence is a “must have”.  It drives a lot of my decisions and I can get pretty animated about it. 

When I talk about scenarios where I’m being independent, I feel authentic, congruent and strong.  But, what do other people experience?  Well, it might just be that they experience someone who likes to be in control. 

Because Values are so powerful, it strikes me that our Values-driven behaviours could have a very different impact on others to how they feel for us. 

So what?

This felt like quite a revelation to me.  I have since been thinking about my strongest Values, what behaviours they tend to drive and how those behaviours might land with others.

Have you ever had a moment when someone that knows you quite well has taken your intentions the wrong way?  Maybe you too were in Values mode?

If you’d like to explore this further, how about:

  1. Identify your top Values (read this article to find out how)
  2. Identify common behaviours that you use that you think could be driven by these Values
  3. Consider how these might come across to other people

It’s a good idea to share your Values with those close to you so that they understand where you’re coming from.  Perhaps they can identify their own Values and you can have a rich conversation about your respective personal Values and deepen your connection.


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