When we are coaching clients to have more effective conversations, we talk about how to create a deliberate, productive intention. What do you want the outcome of the interaction to be? How can you connect with this person in a way that furthers that outcome? What should you do to avoid sabotaging the outcome you’re looking for?
Clients create an intention, have the conversations, and report back. The next logical question is: How do I know if it worked?
Because deliberate intention is about how we affect the other person, it can be hard to answer this question. It’s not enough to know how we felt when we were speaking, we have to get an idea of what the impact on the other person was.
Sometimes it’s clear. The person we’re talking to expresses something that speaks directly to our intention: “I feel heard,” “it’s a relief to hear your explanation,” “thank you for being so honest with me.” Often, though, we don’t know. What they say is opaque or could be interpreted in several ways.
The best way to assess whether what you’re doing is working is to look at behavior. If your intention was to build trust, does the other person become more forthcoming? Invite you to share your ideas? If it was to calm their fears about the project, do they still bring up the same issues of anxiety, or have they been able to move forward?
Deliberate, productive intention is the long game. It requires you to be consistent and to be honest. If you continue to show up in this way, you’ll be able to see the outcome.