Communication Breakdown – “What’s Your Intent?”

Why does communication break down? What’s the cause?

When communication breaks down, probably over 95% of the cause is the “misinterpretation of intent”.

And this misinterpretation usually happens because one person has trouble understanding (and/or contexting) someone else’s behavior.

Here’s what this sounds like…

“Why did Kelly do that?”. “What was the purpose of Justin doing that.” “I don’t understand what their intent was.”

And, this is made worse because…

The people asking these questions aren’t speaking directly to the person whose intent is in question.

Instead, they ask someone else – a third party or parties – who either witnessed the behavior or weren’t even around when it happened.

This is all because most people don’t like disagreeing or disagreement.

And, to most people, going directly to Kelly or Justin to question their intent feels like disagreement – which makes them uncomfortable.

So, it’s easier to go to a third party and ask what Kelly or Justin’s intent was.

Here’s the problem…

Kelly or Justin don’t even know their intent has been misinterpreted. And, no third party can accurately speak for them. They can only do that for themselves.

So, if you are part of a team and you don’t speak directly to someone whose intent you are questioning, they may never know it was misinterpreted.

This is not appropriate, supportive, collaborative team behavior.

If you want to encourage and support effective behavior in a team, it is every team member’s responsibility – if questioning someone’s intent – to go directly to that person and appropriately ask them what their intent was, regardless of whether they are comfortable doing it or not.

If you do this, it will make communication more effective and less likely to break down. It will also help you become a better self-manager.