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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
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
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
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
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
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:
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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