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I Want to Help, Does This Help?

Ratika Gore

Author: Ratika Gore

Date: Sun, 2016-09-04 17:28

“This work is unacceptable! Surely you are capable of more hard work!”

I remembered saying this to my niece… perhaps sometimes a watered down version of it to a student too.

I was sitting in the recently held workshop in the faculty lounge when I thought about this. The team from the Center of Creative Leadership, Singapore had come to campus to conduct a 2-day workshop on effective leadership styles for faculty. There was one concept that personally impacted me tremendously, that was this concept of ‘Intention – Impact Gap’.

Let’s go back to what I remember saying to my niece “This work is unacceptable! Surely you are capable of more hard work!”. She would judge the communication on the impact it made on her. The take-away message for her would be “It’s never enough for my aunt ”, “Of course I have put in hard work, what does she know”, “Doesn’t she know I am a good student, why is she pushing me”?

On the other hand, I would judge the same communication on the intention I have behind what I say. The message I would feel I am giving out is “I care for you, I know you are capable of more”, “I don’t want you to accept mediocrity for yourself”, “You have to learn to push yourself”.

The gap lies here, right here between the intention and the impact. This gap you will find at the core of so many communication breakdowns, misunderstanding between otherwise objective people. How many times have you said something and have found the recipient reacting differently to what you expected? How many times have you thought about what your boss or a colleague has said and wondered if they were in their right mind. On a larger scale, many leaders create paths to changes in their organisations but very often they see slow results or serious resistance to changes.

So how does one work around it? The key to reducing the gap works two ways. If you communicate your intention, there is a high chance the listener will be more receptive to what you are saying. The other equally important way is to ask for feedback to understand the impact. A simple “Tell me what you feel about this” can open doors to far richer and effective conversations. A leader can communicate the intention or the logic behind a new policy and equally importantly genuinely seek feedback to understand the impact on the people and organisation.

On a personal level, how would it help me change the way I communicate? Going back to what I said to my niece, if I could go back in time I would probably have said something different, perhaps something like;“You know I care for you and that I feel you are capable of more. I really want to help you and I feel perhaps this one time you have not pushed yourself. I think this work is unacceptable. Surely you are capable of more hard work. Do you feel the same way?”

 

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<p>Very well written, ma'am. Really liked the clarity of thought and expression</p>
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<p>Testing comment capability...</p>
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Good read!! I found the information presented in this article very educative and insightful. The writer has used a very catch phrase "Impact-intention gap" which helps to implant well the writer's message in the conscious mind of the reader. For an effective communication, be it peer to peer or subordinate-superior or vise-versa, it is very important to do an impact-intention analysis to ensure your thoughts are vocalized correctly to yield the desired effect. The use of phrase 'intention-impact' is very catchy.

Right on point M'am. The Intention-Impact Gap is the biggest worry these days especially when time for communication is short. Take for example, even in the corporate world : In most meetings, whether with clients,colleagues or bosses, the time we get to put forth our view point is limited. If our intent doesn't reach desired impact, the energy and many hours we spent on making proposals and presentations to help our company grow in its market share by giving an innovative solution in the product or services we sell will go in vain. In addition, it would have been a splendid idea, but your idea was not bought in by the company as your communication didn't have an impact. This would have led to market share losses for your company. Imagine, if it worked otherwise. It would have been a happy ending.

Good read!! I found the information presented in this article very educative and insightful. The writer has used a very catch phrase "Impact-intention gap" which helps to implant well the writer's message in the conscious mind of the reader. For an effective communication, be it peer to peer or subordinate-superior or vise-versa, it is very important to do an impact-intention analysis to ensure your thoughts are vocalized correctly to yield the desired effect. The use of phrase 'intention-impact' is very catchy. Communication can become mis-interpreted, misunderstood or even missed out if there is a large gap between the intent-impact of the speaker. It is very important to be aware of how our message is actually perceived by the other party. For winning any relationships be it personal or business, mastering of intent-impact analysis is a must. Intent-impact gap is something I feel every individual must have experienced in his life. I feel following things can help to bridge the gap. Before sending message accross one should recollect his thoughts and choose the words wisely. Other way could be by seeking feedback from the recepient.

Well written blog and useful in today’s world as communication is the key in everything. Take any situation, especially business meetings, job interviews or even at personal life we struggle to get the right impact. There may be several challenges, time may be limited or short the situation may not be favorable but the resultant impact of a message is the outcome of action and reaction based on your communication. One can adopt this technique to be more impactful.

Dear mam, Thank you for sharing a crucial insight about effective communication. As I was reading through the lines I could recollect a similar situation from childhood where I was on the receiving end my uncle on the other. I was in the seventh grade my Uncle, who is serving in the Indian navy had come to visit us. One fine morning, he tells me “Lad I am going to teach you to drive a car”. I jumped from by bed exuberant about the fact that finally I will be behind the wheels and know how the complex vehicle works. He started out with the initial instructions of “Turn the ignition, press the clutch, and change the gear from neutral to 1st, leave the clutch and press the accelerator”. I thought this is it. This is how one drives and all the while I awe of people who knew driving. Obliging his orders I just did as instructed but to my dismay the car jerked and stopped. I tried all my wits but that beast would hardly move a bit. He got agitated and shouted and I feared to me death. It was a slap to my self-esteem I was not able to operate a simple vehicle. I slogged through the day but I had no clue why wasn’t it moving. His constant lambastes and ridicule was getting on my nerves and eventually I started crying and told him I don’t understand your language and I don’t understand why you want me to learn. I will never drive. I think he could subtly get the fact that even though his instructions were clear they were not making any sense to me as I did not understand the mechanism behind. Immediately, he took me home. Brought out a pen and paper and drew the whole mechanism of clutch and gear and explained. He also emphasized on the importance to learn to drive as it will come handy. That was the moment we bridged the gap between intention and impact and the rest is history. Today as I drive, I often feel nostalgic about the fact how I begun.

Dear Ma’am, Reading your blog ‘I Want to Help, Does This Help?’ was an eye opener on some of the dynamics involved in communication between people. It clearly outlined the importance of transmitting one’s thoughts to the receiver in a manner which is not only easy to understand but also free from ambiguous interpretations. The simple example of the dialogue between your niece and yourself outlines the results of erroneous communication. Though very basic, the gap between impact and intentions would lead to unintended repercussions, many of which may be of the irreversible kind. As a person who aspires to be in positions of responsibility and leading teams, I understand that this aspect of communication is vital for me. The possible solution or remedy suggested by you was helpful and I would definitely try to apply it in real world scenarios. In my past work experience, I do recollect using the methods of communicating my intention and asking for feedback. Yet, I realize now that it was purely instinctive and was inconsistent from situation to situation. I would also like to add from my experiences that understanding the psyche of the receiver would go a long way in determining the method of giving feedback and whether it would actually help them. With the insights provided by you, I find it prudent to cultivate this subconscious behavior into a more professional and structured strategy while providing feedback in my work environment. Thank you

Like the proverbial slip between the cup and the lips, the gap between the intended communication and the impact of the same can have an undesired effect-sometimes counter-productive to the intent. Communication is a two-way process. While the sender has to ensure that the intention for the communication is clear, it is for the recipient to give a proper feedback as to our understanding of the communication. The sender has the responsibility to ensure that she obtains the feedback from the recipient. True. Communication is vital as it defines us. Most important is the correct way of communication as it decides whether the person buys your points or not. Besides packaging and gift wrapping our feedbacks it is very important to work on our tone and body language too this is basically part of non-verbal communication. To appreciate the importance of non verbal communication, we can emphasis on just a simple bright smile when we say congratulations as this reinforces the sincerity of our words. Further, I would like to bring few points here in this forum from our classroom discussions. Verbal communication can be enhanced when a person employs himself in effective listening. Listening doesn’t simply mean hearing. It necessitates you to understand another person’s viewpoint. One must take her time to think before she speaks to ensure that they clearly articulate themselves. I appreciate the example cited here; it reminds of many such similar scenarios in my life. There are many takeaways form this article. For me, I would like to focus on the awareness of what we say and how we say as it acts as the first step to successful communication.

The intention-impact gap, is something which mars the maximum communications. It is such a delicate gap, that if you miss a bit the whole communication goes haywire. A small gap and the communication becomes vulnerable to all sorts of misinterpretations, misunderstandings and at times even the whole of the communication is missed out. The art of making a communication free from ambiguous interpretations and attenuations is something which is very tough to understand and equally tough to practice. The major issue lies in the fact that this concept is hidden from a large mass. People actually strive hard to understand the reasons why the intention is not communicated the way it should be. This blog presents the whole concept and the issue behind this in such a simple manner. The example helps to relive moments where we can easily connect to the incident, Oh.! This could have been one of the reasons why the dialogue went wrong the other day. I personally hold an opinion that the emotions and facial expressions help a lot in bridging this gap and above all it’s the right placement of the words which brings forth the magic of communication. This is something which actually differentiates the normal speaker from an influential speaker.

The intention-impact gap invariably exists through a multitude of contexts and yet it's rarely spotted. An unidentified gap drives the perceptions in different directions, breaks the conversation and consequently, defeats the purpose of communication. The primitive agenda of communication is to share knowledge and information specific to a particular context that enhances understanding paramount to that context. However, the existence of the intention-impact gap is deterrent to the understanding, which doesn’t bode well for communication. The power of speech, which sets human beings apart, is supposed to help reduce ambiguity and misunderstandings in communication. The basic rule of effective communication says that the listener should be able to comprehend your words in a manner most relevant to your intentions. Yet, while we often think that we've done enough to make ourselves clear, the outcomes say otherwise. To this end, Prof. Ratika has presented a very simple example which shows that a small gap in an apparent harmless conversation can have a lasting impact. And if there is a gap between the intention and impact in the foundation of the communication, building on it would only magnify the distance. She has very neatly encapsulated the most critical aspect of communication, and shown that it’s no rocket science to identify and eliminate this gap, and make every conversation more comprehensive and fruitful.

Ratika Ma’am has made a very valid point and I completely agree with it. It is important that we identify communication gaps and are empathetic to the feelings of people around us. However, in this fast-paced lifestyle that we are leading, is it possible for us to be so empathetic practically to everyone around us? Sure, one can take special efforts to be nice to their children or their spouses or their in-laws to ensure that their personal relationships are healthy but what about people who we deal with on a daily basis and do not pay much attention to? What about the behaviour we show to that cafeteria guy who fails to put the right amount of sugar in our coffee? How fair are we when we yell and abuse at the driver in the next lane because “we think” he is not driving appropriately? These are the times when we are total failures in applying the impact-intention communication gap as we do not even try to understand the impact of our behaviour on the other person. Did we stop to think here that may be the cafeteria guy got pulled in for some other work at the last minute and has many other chores lined up for the day and hence has forgotten to put the right amount of sugar in our coffee or do we stop to think on the driver’s part that maybe he has had a really bad day at work today and is not in his best driving element? I really doubt. Addressing communication gaps should definitely start from our homes but should not be confined to the boundaries of our comfort zones such as home, office, society, etc. It should be applied to anyone and everyone that we meet because we can never understand the negative impact of our words on others but we can surely try to minimize the harm caused.

Dear Ma’am, thank you for this insightful and thought provoking article. It instantly took me back to the time I joined a new company as a team leader. Never having handled a team before, I was thrilled by the idea and was eager to make a great impression. “That is no way of talking to the client!” Is what I said to my reportee after my first client meeting with the team. I thought I was trying to explain to her the importance of proper communication, without realising the "Intention Impact Gap", it created. My Intention was that “We have to be careful while talking to our clients, any casualness can have a negative impact”. She would judge the communication on the impact it made on her “who is he?” “what does he know?” The impact was counterproductive to the extent that she stopped participating in the subsequent meetings, even the client wrote to me asking if she was okay. I later learnt and realised that the team had built a rapport with the client. I felt like a fool. Only if I had said something different, like “I am a little concerned about that the teams’ casual nature, it could set a negative image in front of the client. Don’t you agree?”, she might have have been more receptive and told me about their amity with the client. It is very important to understand the intention impact gap in today’s work culture, what we say and how we say it can help achieve desired results. A manager/leader who understands the concept and applies it to his/ her communication is perceived as more approachable, especially when the time to put forth an idea is limited. This concept should be ingrained in each one of us by constantly and consciously imbibing it over the years as it is not only vital in our professional lives but also makes us more adept at dealing with people at the personal front.

This is a great article Ma’am. I think the impact-intention gap is ubiquitous but more prevalent in the professional world. That is because in personal relations we still try to understand the other man’s perspective if not immediately, a little later. Acknowledging that the impact-intention gap does exist, works both ways. When you are the person giving the advice you tend to go that extra mile to make sure that the intent is well received and has the right impact. When you are at the receiving end you may give the speaker the benefit of doubt and may try to find out the real intention of the speaker. You can continue your conversation with the speaker trying to find out what made him think like that and finding out his real intent. A team which can understand the impact-intention gap can function much more effectively than the teams which do not understand or do not know that this exits. The misunderstanding can also be aggravated by written communication when its becomes even more difficult for the person who sends it to get across his intention right to the receiver. Its more likely that reader misunderstand’s the real intention. For this reason I think its more advisable for a person to directly talk to and avoid written communication if he intends to send something sensitive. I think communication breakdowns can be avoided to a large extent by following these.

Hi Ma’am, An excellent article. You have stepped on a very simple looking yet a very critical issue that most of us tend to not realise. The intent – impact gap situation is most commonly seen with kids. Almost all the kids experience, the pressure of studying and scoring in school, excelling in sports, developing other extra-curricular talents such as singing, dancing, drawing and painting, among others. And such pressures, in a majority of cases, are put on them, by their very own parents, whom they blindly trust and look up to the most. In some cases, it is found, that parents try to enforce their own dreams and aspirations on their children. Why is this? The most common justification is that, I want my child to be the best and better than his or her peer group, at everything. They fail to realise that that sentence should be – “I want my child to be the best as per his or her interests and abilities”. In trying to accomplish this, the most common outcome is the constant yelling at and hitting (especially in India and other eastern countries) of the child. The parents always think that they are helping their child find motivation to perform better. But seldom do they realize the actual impact it has on the child. As you have rightly pointed out, the child tends to develop an attitude where he or she thinks that they are just not good enough and their parents are disappointed in them. There is a constant fear of failure and a constant struggle for pleasing their parents, to hope to gain their love and respect. This, over a period of time, leads to a low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in the child. It distances the child from its parents. This often leads to serious psychological damages to the child, which often last a life time. Even worse, some may take this forward with their own kids as well. The intention – impact gap has a far graver consequence than most of us tend to think. A great example of this is illustrated in the movie “Taare Zamin Paar”, but we are not quite sure if the intention of the movie has had an impact on the intended audience. Thus, the question remains, I want to help, does it help?

Having worked in multinational organizations for the last 6 years has given me the opportunity to communicate with multi-various stakeholders. And due to the many instances of miscommunication and misunderstandings that I've observed and faced at work, I connect with the principle at the heart of this article at a very intrinsic level. I can vouch for the fact that just having the best intentions at heart is definitely not enough. In fact, the gap between intention and impact is sometimes so wide that it manages to create irrevocable rifts in business relations. I remember an instances where after a two hour long video conference with our Product Manager, my team came out feeling disgruntled and under recognized when in fact the same Manager had nominated us for "top achievers of the quarter" awards, all because of his cut and dry approach to communication. For most of us management graduates transitioning from deep seated engineering roles to those of people and team managers, the chasm between being "bullet-point" conversationalists to that of effective communicators is in fact quite wide. However, as quite aptly advised in this blog, the initial and maybe the most effective ways to address this is by actively seeking feedback and communicating intentions plainly. In interacting with fellow students across the batch and in my personal life, I have in many ways realised the same and see positive outcomes to my interpersonal relationships as a whole. With the corporate world becoming increasingly "flat" due to globalisation and with the international nature of our job responsibilities it is all the more important that we pay active and necessary interest in the way we go about communicating our strategies and ideas to cross-cultural teams and individuals. Implementing such suggestions as in this blog and constantly introspecting on one's shortcomings is definitely the need of the hour for us future managers. Thank you for your advice on this front.

Great Share Ma’am!! After reading your post, I felt that how poor communicator I am in my day to day life. I am not ashamed to accept this fact. Rather, after going through your article I eventually started thinking of incidences when I tried to communicate something to someone but ended with almost no intended result. I believe that things can go worse when intensions are not properly communicated to the person with whom I am communicating and want to have an impact on him / her. I am moved with the incidence which you had with your niece. I truly understand how far can that impact affect the child. I am of the strong opinion that a single statement can be interpreted in different ways and can have different impact depending on person and situations. The Intention – Impact gap is very important and should be taken care of in the foremost place. The suggestions proposed by you for diminishing the Intention – Impact gap; (a) by communicating one’s intention clearly without any ambiguity or (b) by asking feedback to understand the impact on the person; are very good. By asking feedback, we actually draw the attention of the listener and make them more concentrated towards our intentions. This will not only help to create a better image but also create a trust. Apart from this, the article had a great impact on me. I am a mother of one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and always imagine and make master game plans for nurturing her. But I also believe that these master plans will all go in vain in practical situations if I do not communicate my ideas to hear effectively. I am thankful to you for your small and insightful article which has impacted me positively and would help me to become a better communicator and a mother. THANK YOU!!!

Ratika ma’am introduces us to a very subtle nuance which is a critical factor for successful communication but is missed quite often. In quite a large number of organizational contexts and even in personal relationships we generally see two parties ending up in conflict, just because they are immune to the Intention-Impact gap. It is very important that we as management graduates understand the criticality of this important concept. This is one concept, if practiced and mastered, can help us at succeeding and being highly effective in most of our future communications at organizations or outside. In order to bring it to practice in our organizational context, it is imperative that we imbibe this mantra in our day-to-day communications with people and friends around. Consciously practicing this principle in our daily lives, will make it deep-rooted in our sub-conscious mind and only then we can extract the magical results out of it during our organizational communications. My younger brother always looks at me as a source of inspiration and career advice. I am from an engineering background and he is an economics student, so basically we are poles apart. I generally overlooked his queries and would give him very generic responses, based on my background, which hardly made any sense to him. Often he would come out with follow-up queries and I would end up giving him some random “gyan” which even confused him further. Some day he confronted me and made me realize, that my inputs don't work for his sphere. He could not apply the same principles to his career and also that his needs are different than mine. I was quite taken aback at this confrontation, but I gave him a patient ear. Finally, drawing insights over all his points, I came to realize the power of this “Intent-Impact” gap. If only I could have fine-tuned my experiences to align to his needs, perhaps he could have got better results using my advice. Now having learned the hard way, the principle sticks with me!!

It is a very thoughtful point put forward by Ratika ma’am & I thank her for drawing our attention to it. The intention – Impact gap is one that is often neglected when we communicate. When we are interact the basic element or purpose of it is to convey what we actually want to say or to understand what the other person is trying to convey. Now the basic challenge here is articulating one’s thoughts in a way that the listener will comprehend exactly what the speaker is trying to convey. The intentions of the speaker can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. Many of us have played this game wherein we describe the object to a person who is not able to see it & is supposed to draw based on our communication / intentions. We often observe a different picture drawn than what we thought we had communicated. Why does this happen? The simple reason is for this is the intention – impact gap. Communications can be complex. Bridging the intention-impact gap is of utmost importance for effective & fruitful communication. Asking for feedback & communicating the intentions are key to reducing the gap. However we can also focus our attention on the people we are addressing. Another way is to be mindful of what we are saying, comprehending it & paying attention to the emotions displayed by the listener. Seeking a feedback is very effective tool in nullifying the wrong interpretation. However it may not be always possible to ask for a feedback of everything that we communicate. In this scenario I feel that having a thorough understanding of what is being communicated will come to aid. If the speaker feels that some content of his speech can also be interpreted in a different way, he may rephrase it & again convey the message he was trying to make. Rephrasing & reemphasizing of one’s views & ideas will help in communication clarity. Intentions are of prime importance when we speak. So these intentions should be absorbed by the listener in the same wavelength. A good intention but a wrong phrasing of words can communicate harsh feelings wherein in contrast you wanted to be sympathetic or supportive. Seeking feedback, rephrasing the words to convey the right intent & repeating it will help in communicating clearly & correctly. Thus the gap between intention-impact can be minimized.

Such a great read Ma'am. It's extremely helpful!

I joined a start-up in 2012 and while I was being interviewed by the founder and the investor to become a part of the team, he made me go through a long list of written exercises primarily about what I want from this venture, my techno-commercial understanding and my long-term objective. In fact before I actually contributed to the startup, it almost took 4 months for me to get these things right. Almost every week, I would get irritated by the feedback I received from Hemant. Many times I concluded that I am just wasting my time as I was just trying to break my head with a perfectionist and that it might never work in my favour. I put in many hours to prepare for the response and what I got in reward was a redo. It took me two years to realize where the understanding gap is and where the intention gap lies. During this process I had learned so many things that about latest technology, the cloud communications and the ability to articulate the difference in quality of software code. I would have never learned any of these had I not understood the intentions of Hemant. All these things contributed so much to my ability that, my statements were taken note of and I officially represented my company in various seminars and presentations and my statements were provided to media as well. In 2015, while I was the national sales head for the Org. I headed the entire direct sales team and I changed the way we communicated with the customers. I adopted a different approach of mixing the pre-sales and sales from a single sales person to a advanced level. My team initially thought that I was being harsh and that it will not work. However, I made them adopt this approach and with a bit of resistance we moved forward. It was only in year 2016 when our efforts started to yield that they realized that the process was paying and that I was just trying to bring the best from them.

This topic according to me has a lot of variables that need to be looked into while discussing. During your lecture conducted on campus, I had raised a question which was duly answered by you, but somehow still doesn’t quite put to rest my apprehensions while broaching this topic. For example, one’s intentions may usually be extremely noble but the person on the receiving end will most of the times misconstrue the feelings/emotions put across no matter how well the speaker words his/her statements. According to me, to explain this topic better, one needs to be well versed with the rules of gambling even though it is an extreme comparison but when put in perspective makes sense. You (speaker) roll your dice (intent) and cannot really judge the outcome (impact) at the end of a conversation. There are just too many factors that need to be kept in mind while addressing a topic such as the mood of the recipient, the human nature of the recipient etc. These factors, if you know the recipient well enough, can be taken into account and the ‘you can do better’ statement be drafted accordingly. However, in a real life corporate environment where people are not familiar with each other, it would become a rather uphill task for the speaker to practice diplomacy at the same time give the recipient a slap on his/her wrist to buck up. All in all, it is a wonderful topic to discuss on and has been thought off and put together rather beautifully.

Very good comment Vijay. Nice thoughts...

An impactful article, Ratika Ma'am. Thanks for sharing the wisdom with us. Imposing tough love on closed ones or best employees, can really back fire. I could relate to every bit of it. This is very common in day-to-day conversation at workplaces, schools, colleges etc. in India. We, Indians, have always been trying to impose tough love on someone whom we think is capable of achieving or doing something which we are not capable of. However, it is always important to direct our behavior in a positive way. A very common example of this can be seen in our Indian education system where children, generally scoring marks above average, are forced to take up streams which their parents or relatives might they are capable of whereas, the real scenario changes when the same student ends of failing in the first exam. Another example, I've personally seen managers trying to be rude just so that the employee doesn't commit the same mistake again. Which, to me, is completely absurd. If you really want to teach that person, there would and are multiple ways which can help both, the manager and the employee learn and grow together. I must say, people at the higher authority and power should think vicariously and focus on developing emotional intelligence quotient rather than just the IQ. Having said this, I strongly recommend people to read "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" by Travis Bradberry, where he explain how to recognize, develop and grow your Emotional Quotient to deal with day to day situations in ones life. Teaching and Managing stuff by imposing Tough love, really is a myth.

Communication drives our lives and for it to be effective is considered of prime importance. But what we tend to ignore trying to achieve the effectiveness is that the effect can be different from what we intended to make. This article puts forward a very simple explanation of how intentions are not always converted to the message perceived. It only strengthens my belief that while trying to make our communication more attractive, stickier, concise or effective, it is the most important to make it clear and deliver the meaning behind it. In our lives, personal or professional, we tend to assume that people who know us will understand what we’re trying to say and what we mean by it. But often, when our words don’t clearly explain our intentions, the deepest of relationships can be affected by this intention-impact gap. With tens of conversations going on at a single moment, we need to understand that we need to be very careful with what we want to say and what we actually say. This has become a bigger problem today since most of the conversations happen on text. It might be a WhatsApp sent to your parents, boyfriend or friends or a mail sent to your boss or colleagues. Texts cannot take with them the tone we would have had if we said it in person, the gesture or the body language that must have accompanied the words and that makes the conversation all the more vulnerable to misunderstandings. We try to shorten our conversations and make them concise which often are perceived as rude or inappropriate. We say things in a funny tone but the person at the other end gets offended. We only say what we think was necessary to be conveyed and generally omit why we said it. It leads to a wrong impact on the receiver due to lack of conveyance of intentions with it. With such problems taking over and affecting our relationships and lives on a daily basis, it is important to stop and think what is going wrong. It is important to pause for two seconds and think if what we’re going to say really sounds like what we’re am trying to convey. This pause solves a lot of problems. I have tried it. More often than not, if you say to yourself what you’re about to say to the other, you get an idea of how it would feel to listen to it. It can then be altered to communicate the message better. We have to train ourselves to convey the intention and not just the message. And when we start doing that, the conversations will be a little better and the days a little more peaceful.

Most of us understood communication as a mode of transferring information between two individuals by means of signs, symbols, behaviors or talking’s. The important thing about communication is that, it should be simple and easily understood by the concerned person. Sometimes it happens we communicate but only in talking manner. We should understand that there is a difference between what we talk and what we communicate. When we talk, it creates barriers that inhibit our ability to communicate effectively. These barriers results in keeping us from reaching out to our dear ones or colleagues. It’s not all about just to be heard or imposing our decisions on others, it’s also about to listen others or what they expect from us. Communication barriers can tarnish one’s image too. People generally doesn’t listen to others because they have made a poor image about that person. For some people, it took years to overcome poorly maintained image among persons even though they meant to care for others. They are unable to create authentic connections with the people whom they care for the reasons because people have made too many false perceptions blocking their way. To overcome these barriers whether it is within family or workplace one must understand that communication is not a one-way road. People always tries to put his opinions first before listening to others orientation about the topic under discussion. So, listening actively and attentively can improve interpersonal communication between the people. At workplace maintaining effective communication skills is of greater importance and value, as it results in desired effects or necessary required actions. Communication gaps at organization level may be due to various reasons such as fear among employees, specially communicating people communicating at higher levels, mistrust among employees or maintaining an attitude of feeling of disgust to fellow colleagues. Thus, identifying the communication gap that has emerged and taking necessary action to minimize will be of greater benefit for any organization. To have people open to you, firstly you must be open to them. Overcoming these barriers of communication, one can ensure that the statements you are making not only just been heard, but also understood, by the person whom you are addressing too.

It was indeed a good piece of reading. A similar incidence happened with me when my father asked me if I was content with my preparation and I responded with a Yes without any thought. This prompt reaction was to the doubt my father was raising regarding my work. Since I was not able to take his comment constructively, I ended up performing bad. An important part here was that both of us knew there has been a misunderstanding but neither of us tried to clear it. This was a case of Intention – Impact Gap. I feel there is an equal gap from both the sides, the communicator and the receptor. To cover this gap, if I take my incidence, my father could have been more clear in communicating his intentions so that there would not have been any misinterpretations. And on the other side I could have avoided being defensive and rather could have given him a feedback which would have made the conversation way more effective. A misunderstood communication takes up on energy and time and leads nowhere. As rightly said in the article, this could be avoided by just 2 simple steps of conveying intention clearly and asking for feedback. Many a times such a problem is faced in office setting, classroom and in personal life. It is worth noticing that a well communicated message could make all the difference. Had my father made himself clear enough there would have been a chance of me performing much better than what I did. If the manager could ask for a feedback after the meeting he could easily come to know who has taken the message constructively and who has not thus eliminating intention – impact gap. A feedback helps in making the conversation more transparent.

A very appropriately written blog that inspires you to not only understand the dynamics of intention and impact gap but also read between the lines to come up with the importance of listening and comprehending skills. These days, there stand a virtual wall in between a speaker and his listener. What comes out of the mouth of the speaker does not flow completely in the same format to the listener as it is supposed to be, which is the root cause of all the misunderstandings prevalent. I also am a firm believer of the fact that the way you articulate your words create a huge impact. The game of Chinese Whispers appears to me as a perfect example to describe this. I still remember the times when we used to play the game, how a simple message, after having been passed on consecutively through a number of mouths, at the end, came out to be a completely different phrase. The takeaway here is that simply listening without comprehending is as dangerous as not listening at all. Communicating is not like sailing on a quiet sea, guaranteed that if you keep steering straight, you will reach your destination. It is more like navigating your way through harsh and unfamiliar waters and on the way, achieving the impact that you intent your listener should receive. To deal with this, feedback can prove to be an effective tool. Inquiring about the intent of a speaker prevents the listener from thinking in the wrong direction based on faulty assumptions. This builds a level of trust and understanding between the giving entity and the receiving entity. When we communicate with others, ‘intent’ is what we think they will understand but what actually they receive is the ‘impact’. Bringing in ‘Mindfulness’ whether you are a listener or a speaker will surely go long way in bridging the intent – impact gap.

Ratika Mam, this blog takes me back to a rather interesting quip by Nelson Mandela, "If you talk to a man in the language he understands, it goes to his head but if you talk to him in his own language...that goes to his heart". That is to reach a mans heart you must speak its language. Only then would our intent have an impact. In a way, this is the crux of every communication. And any leader worth his salt would constantly strive to bridge the intent-impact gap. All the great leaders of the world have relied on this -seemingly inconspicuous -fact to attain their glory. Consider the case of 2016 USA Presidential Elections. We all know Hilary Clinton was the better of the lot,we all know she had the correct intentions and motivations . But was she elected the President of United States? No. Why? Well, she didn't reasonate with the voters! The voters related to Trump because he spoke their tongue ,because he addressed and played on their fears. Closer home, political affiliations aside, we have to give it to PM Modi for his brilliant oratory. He almost magically tunes to the voters frequency and beats his opponents to pulp, simply because they do not bridge this gap. A Rahul Gandhi, however well intentioned, was not able to bridge that gap, which cost his party huge electoral defeats. The intent needs to be effectively communicated for the impact. As Shaw said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" and it is this mirage that a leader should be able to quell to succeed.

I really like the concept of intention and impact gap, and how simplistically ma'am has given the solution. Because while there are billions of people who are ready to help or suggest, there are hardly a few who actually think whether their help will actually have any impact or whether their message is really conveyed. There was an incident which recently happened with me. As part of our business communication course, we had given the assignment to write an essay on a life changing moment of our life. Everyone in my class was busy in writing or getting their essay reviewed from the every-other peer, and one of my friends came to me for the same. He had written about his Kashmir trip and the situations he faced during his journey. The essay had really good content with situations where he was faced with life and death situations and there was involvement of Indian Army, Terrorist group and what not. But the essay lagged in its structure. For an instance, I felt like telling him I expected more from him, but I paused for a while because it might not have any outcome instead it could have other implications, i.e he may feel I am judging him or so. And since he is my friend, I had to tell him in a way, which as Ma’am has already mentioned, I care for what he has written, and if he conveys what he wants to write effectively, he has a really good chance to stand out. Hence I couldn't handle the situation and ended up saying "since none of us are that experts in essay writing, we can check it together. We sat together for about 30mins to an hour and fixed most of the issues. I knew this is something which I cannot do every time when someone comes to me, so since then I was wondering how a person effectively conveys a suggestion without affecting his or her relationship, and this blog is something which really helped me understand this.

I would like to say that I really enjoyed reading this blog of yours as it perfectly captures the communication gap. I liked the entire flow of the blog as it starts from an instance and ends with the same instance being rectified. It kept me engaged into reading the entire piece. The entire explanation of the impact vs intention based on the same instance kept it simple and easy to comprehend without any gobbledygook. This intention-impact gap exists in maximum conversations which causes misunderstandings and sometimes even leads to a collapse of relationships. I myself have faced this gap several times, but mostly have failed to identify the reason behind those misunderstandings. I would hereby want to share one of the instances which I recalled right after reading the blog. One major instance of this gap is that between my mother and my brother. My mother is always after my brother, asking him to study while my brother constantly takes her scolding lightly. This is an example that is visible in almost all households where the parents’ major concern is that their child does not study. After reading this blog, I could understand that the reason lies in the intention-impact gap, for the mother’s scolding holds a positive intention towards the child but it ends up having a negative impact on the child. This example is very similar to what you quote in the blog. My mother also realises this gap and tries to bridge it by communicating her intention and asking for feedback. However, the story does not stop here. Despite all of this, she hardly succeeds in what she tries. My brother agrees with my mother but continues to be ignorant towards his studies. Hence, I believe that bridging the gap does not end the problem. Even after you communicate your intention and ask for feedback, it is imperative that the person buys your intention. Many a times, one may continue to hold that prejudice and believe that you are just trying to convince him/her to agree with you. For instance, even if you try to help people with constructive criticism and specify your intention, they might believe that you are just jealous of them and might not buy your ‘positive’ criticism. I thus believe that bridging the gap is both important and difficult at the same time. It highly depends on the relationship that the two parties share. In the case of my brother, he continues to neglect his studies despite knowing the intention of my mother because he has had faced the same situation for a very long time. He denies to accept that the scolding can ever hold a positive intention. It is therefore imperative to bridge this gap before it reaches a dead end. I thus believe that in order to bridge this gap, one has to be aware of the status of the relationship with the other party along with the duration of the existence of the gap. Only then would one be able to help.

Thank you, ma’am, for elucidating a simple looking yet critical issue that most of us tend to not realise while communicating. The argument states that by communicating the intention/ underlying logic and by asking for genuine feedback, the gap between the speaker’s intentions and the perceived impact on the listeners end can be significantly minimised or eliminated altogether. This is based on the premise that doing so will make the listener understand the speaker’s suggestions better as well as help the speaker gauge the perception of his statement by the people/organisation. While these suggestions are definitely helpful and necessary, these alone are not sufficient to ensure a richer effective conversation. In addition, there are several assumptions that may not necessarily apply to this argument. For example, communicating one’s intention/underlying logic does not necessarily make the listener more receptive, especially when the statement is indeed intended to be a criticism of the other person. Also, one must look at the plausibility of the listener not being completely honest/genuine with respect to the feedback he/she provides to the speaker. And finally, the success of these measures would ultimately depend on the speaker’s ability to derive constructive insights from the feedback for future communications. The first issue to be addressed is whether communicating the intention alone is sufficient to make the listener more receptive. While one could argue that communicating the rationale behind something increases the likelihood of synergy between the two people, the success of this measure heavily depends on the listeners ability to take criticism in his/her stride. For example, if someone has natural tendency to be defensive about one’s actions, he/she will always demonstrate an inherent resistance towards incoming suggestions which in turn might end up increasing the existing intention-impact gap. To consider this, an initial answer first is sometimes necessary w.r.t the other person’s nature is sometimes important to determine the best way to handle a particular conversation. This argument also relies on the idea that people are almost always honest while providing the feedback. This is not the case, especially in situations where the feedback is being provided for a person in superior position. The uncertainty of how the other person might react to the feedback will almost always discourage people from putting forward their true feelings. Finally, one must understand that not everybody interprets the feedback in a constructive manner. There is always a possibility of an intention-impact gap with respect to the feedback itself which in turn defeats the entire rationale behind the feedback itself. For example, if the person ends up perceiving the feedback in a manner different from the intended meaning, it would actually end up increasing the gap rather than decreasing it. In conclusion, while at first it may seem that the two suggestions provided by the author indeed ensure a richer, effective communication, the success of these measures ultimately depends on the attitude, patience and maturity levels of the stakeholders involved. Furthermore, the factors determining the success of any conversation are subjective and vary across different situations. At the beginning of any conversation, all these things must be considered to determine the best approach to any conversation.

Thank you Ma’am for writing this article and sharing the insights you gained from your personal experience. I believe this can be easily extrapolated to day-to-day conversations instead of just a leadership style for faculty. The ‘Intention – Impact Gap’ seems to be a universal phenomenon. I would like to share a couple of my experiences here. Being away from home in college, I feel it is important to stay in touch with your old friends. For this reason, every time I went home, I would call up my friend to ask him if he was free to meet up. Due to limited time and availability, I would tend to ask a lot of questions to understand his schedule, my schedule and how we could make adjustments to be able to meet. This was the intention. One day, I got a response – “Why are you interrogating me? Even my girlfriend does not ask me so many questions”. This was the impact. This is when I realized how my questions were perceived. I realized that the same phenomenon was taking place between me and my parents. Every time I would go on a trip with my friends, my parents would repeatedly ask me to share pictures. They seemed impatient – I can show them the pictures when I get back home, right? What could be the reason? Are they trying to keep track of where I go and what I do? Do they not trust me? This was the impact. I would become grumpy and rebellious when I went on trips and this would make them worry even more. However, it was only when I complained about the same that they explained their reasons. They said they just wanted to be a part of my life and that the images would be further talking points about the trip in addition to the routine mundane questions – How are you? Did you eat? How was your day? These always had the same answers – “I am fine”, “Yes” and “Good”. They did not want to let the distance affect our relationship and just wanted to be with me as much as possible during my journey through life. The explanation of their intention is what actually made me realize about the gap in communication, a gap that is generally so oblivious because of our inherent assumptions and biases. It is important to note that not only is the communication of intention important, but also the communication of impact. The communication channel can be opened from either ends. Just as the person saying something may not realize the impact he/she is having on his/her listener, the person listening may not realize the intention of the speaker. The intention alone seldom matters, it is the execution that affects people. Who initiates the conversation is not important, the only thing that matters is that a communication is started. By default, communication is opaque and efforts need to be taken to improve its transparency.

Dear Ma’am, the article is very interesting and thought provoking. I totally agree with the point you made about communicating your intention and asking for feedback to understand the impact. We all should be able to communicate effectively with one another to succeed in any area- be it workplace, school, colleges, or public. People hear things using their own filters, listening to your point and understanding it according to their mind, due to which messages sometimes are misunderstood. This once happened to me when I was supposed to give feedback to one of the junior associates. I knew that he is giving his best to ensure that the deliverable is error free and delivered in the stipulated time, but due to some glitches, he was not able to achieve a confidence level that he could do it. To boost his self-esteem, I started giving my opinion by first of all appreciating for his attention to detail which he was good at, then taking it up to the next level by criticising him regarding the quality and time that he took for making that deliverable. I could see that he was convinced with what I communicated to him and at the same time saw him getting relieved after the feedback session. The appreciation boosted his morale and the criticism motivated him to work harder and smarter. Although it could have been done better, I think the right thing to do is by letting people know that you care about them and you want to make them good by bringing a change in their life. So, I believe it is very important to think before you act by putting yourself in their shoes and realizing the feeling of receiving criticism on something you have worked a lot. As is also rightly said by Tony Robbins - “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” When you are working with a group of people, you need to have a clear understanding of how to communicate your ideas effectively to make a lasting impact. It is true that no two organizations or people have similar strategies of giving and receiving feedback. However, in all situations, formulating good communication skills along with smart strategies can become a key to success in professional as well as personal life. This article gave me a clear understanding of telling people that you care about them and providing genuine thoughts so that people have faith in you. Seeing the positive change in people can make you understand how communication can hinder or facilitate one’s life.

A very interesting article on effective communication ma’am. The Intention – Impact Gap is something which every person should keep in mind to ensure that the intended communication has reached the desired audience in the desired manner. As we go about life doing our daily chores, we forget the importance of analyzing this aspect of our lives. The subject matter of the article is something which plays a role before, during and after the communication. It’s very important to frame our words carefully and deliver it (something you feel you didn’t do at the beginning). It’s also important to analyze whatever that has been said quickly enough so as to not repeat the same mistake again. Even today, you wish you could go back in time to rephrase whatever you had said to your niece. It clearly shows how important each and every word that we speak during the day actually is. Even the most knowledgeable person fails to express his thoughts if his intention and impact do not match. A professor who is highly qualified but is not able to transfer his/her skill set fails to achieve the desired purpose. But every coin has two sides and what is important for a communicator is equally important for the receptor. When we talk about Intention – Impact from one side, it is important to realize the importance of Impact – Intention from the other side. It’s equally important for the listener to be impacted by the communication after considering the intention of the speaker. The two methods of ‘communicate your intention’ and ‘ask for feedback’ will work perfectly fine from the communicator point of view. Another method which I feel can work both ways (communicator and receptor) is the concept of empathizing. I feel if both the parties put themselves in each other’s shoes, then it would help a great deal in achieving the motive. The best part about adopting this methodology is that it plays a crucial role in every aspect of our life. It’s not just related to big corporate communications. It might surprise us but the most basic communications at a personal level are the ones which affect us the most. Most people avoid it by blaming the other party but what they fail to realize is that the one actually losing is they themselves. One thing which I liked the most in your article is where you mentioned about a leader communicating the logic behind a new policy and genuinely seeking feedback for the same. I also feel this process of feedback is very important. Apart from ensuring that the intended communication has been successful, it creates a feeling of participation and involvement among the staff which creates a ripple effect and ultimately leads to better efficiency and performance. So It’s not only the policy that worked but also the manner in which it was communicated which led to that added advantage which every organization seeks.

This is a nice idea indeed. Simple, easy to understand and the mere knowledge of the existence of the Intention-Impact gap can surely make us all more efficient communicators. After reading this article, I wanted to try and tweak the approach of communicating one’s intention, specifically in an organizational or hierarchical setting, so here goes. Consider the following hypothetical situation. Neil submits a piece of work to his boss, who in turn has to review it and give feedback. Now, the process of reviewing the work would involve two phases. Firstly, the boss would study and understand Neil’s work, and then he would compare the same with his mental definition or basis of a good piece of work. Note that this basis of a good piece of work would be something that the boss developed over time, by making mistakes of his own and subsequently learning from them. The second aspect of the review would involve the boss communicating the difference between Neil’s work and his mental basis- or in other words, the feedback. Now, this feedback communication may come out as - This work is unacceptable! Surely you are capable of more hard work! It can even be more specific like - Your work lacks so and so elements etc. Now the question is, can the boss’s intention be communicated in such a way that the desired intent is developed in the mind of the listener, rather than being enforced upon him? One way to achieve this is through probing. Before providing any feedback, the boss needs to question Neil’s work so as to understand what Neil’s definition of a good piece of work is. Asking the right questions can help him understand why certain mistakes exist in the first place. In other words, communicating your intention can be explored as a two-way process. When you are probing someone about his work, you, in turn, make him think critically about his own thought process and question those further. It also leaves no room miscommunication, since the opportunity to express opinions and comments will exist in this process. Secondly, this kind of feedback building will help the receiver better understand the rationale for the feedback. It opens out to him other perspectives, which he may use while handling similar situations in the future. Also in terms of personal growth, it helps people develop the skill of questioning one’s own work. When a person starts practicing this on a regular basis, the quality of the work will definitely improve over time. Therefore, a good conversation while communicating your intention can ensure growth and prevent miscommunication.

Firstly, I would like to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. The use of a personal example to address the issue of ‘Intention-Impact gap’ enhanced the impact and made the blog very relatable. This issue is important because it can ruin inter-personal relationships. I agree with the point that a leader should be able to communicate his intentions to obtain the desired impact. Without this quality, the leader will lose his credibility and power. One such example is that of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs had a vision to make high-end computers and launched Macintosh. Eventually, Macintosh failed however Steve Jobs wanted to invest further to improve Macintosh. His intention was to capture the high-end market and he believed that the consumers were willing to pay more for a premium product. However, the Apple Board of Directors disagreed with him which lead to disagreements and conflicts. Following this, his role in Apple was restricted and soon he left his job. Fast forward to 1997, Apple was in a huge crisis and Steve Jobs was brought back and he revamped Apple under his leadership. Looking back, the then Apple CEO, John Scully said that Steve Jobs was thinking ahead of his time. However, it is impossible to assess where Apple would have been today if Steve Jobs would have never left. There is possibility that his strategy might have worked in the 1980s. Steve Jobs had the right intention but he failed to communicate that to the Board. Steve Jobs came back with much more experience and had transformed into a leader who can communicate with appropriate impact. I think this example fits well with the argument presented in the blog. However, on a personal front, I have a different take on this topic. Generally, a leader is in a position where his actions and words impact many people at once. Hence, he needs to be careful about his actions and choice of words to avoid being misunderstood. However, I think that we should not always follow this approach. Sometimes it is necessary to be blunt or hurtful for the benefit of others. I will give my personal example. During my undergraduate days, I used to procrastinate a lot. I used to study a day before the exam and I did not take things seriously. My mother used to tell me that I need to be more focused and organized. She wanted me to change and knew that my behaviour was deleterious but she did not intend to hurt me. Hence, her message never really got through to me. While I was working as a research assistant, I was going through a tough time. I had reached a roadblock and things were not working out. I told my problems to my lab mate and he bluntly said that the reason behind my problems is that I am not disciplined. This incident changed me forever. I could acknowledge that the problem exists and I need to take steps to address the issue. My friend’s feedback worked because it was genuine; it was a true reflection of what he felt. I think that constructive feedback should not be filtered and it should come out naturally, reflecting true feelings.

Thanks Ma’am for the wonderful insights. We often come across situations where we wish to communicate our ideas or thoughts to others but they do not land up the right way on them. This issue is truly regular in our everyday collaborations be it in individual or business correspondence, which can result in unintended consequences. One of the most important reason behind the aforesaid issue is the Impact-Intention gap that has been talked upon in the above mentioned blog. As we all know, no two people are the same when it comes to comprehending the thoughts of others. The understanding of a recipient in a communications channel is often clogged by his own opinions and judgements. So, it becomes imperative for us to be conscious of the way we communicate with others to make our intentions clear to them. Be it a formal or an informal communication, we need to be careful about the choice of words that we use, our gestures as well as the tone in which we communicate. These verbal as well as non-verbal modes of communications do have an impact on the person with whom we communicate. I believe that it is much easier to bridge the Impact-Intention gap in our personal correspondences (i.e. with friends and family) than in the case of business communication (i.e. with our managers/clients). The reason I feel the same is that we know and understand our near and dear ones much better than the people from our workplace, which ultimately helps us in making our point clearer to them with the help of minimal efforts at our end. Even in the cases when we feel that there is such kind of a gap, personal relations always provide us a chance to bridge the same with the help of informal communication. The problem on the other hand is much graver in our business correspondences, where we come across new people, about whom we have a little or no knowledge. So, how to handle the situations like these? From my past involvements in and around the industry, I believe that it is best to make your point of view/ your intentions as clear as possible while communicating. Also we should articulate our thoughts in the simplest way possible which can be comprehended easily by the recipients. Another possible solution for the same has been already touched upon in the blog wherein we should ask for feedback from the person we are communicating. This will have twin benefits for us in a way that we will be able to assess the impact that we have on others as well as it will help in transparent communication which will ultimately be beneficial in bridging the communication gap. As future pioneers, I believe that it is critical for us to comprehend the issue of Impact-Intention gap in order to be successful in our everyday correspondences.

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