What does it mean to speak and act with intention? Intention is defined as “a determination to act in a certain way.” It’s assumed that we all generally speak and act with determination. However, the sad truth is that real intention is often lacking in our everyday interactions. Most people speak without intention; they simply say whatever comes to mind.
Our communication can be lazy, not mindful, vague, or loaded with generalizations. Communication is sometimes inauthentic; meaning is deliberately shaded; not saying exactly what you mean. Speaking with intention also involves a conscious attention to whether the receiver gets and fully understands the communication. If the speaker is unaware or does not care what the receiver hears, there is a lack of intention. Consider the business colleague who has gone to enormous pains to develop a plan that doesn’t excite him. Even as he presents it, he is backing away from it. He is doing what people do in organizations every day — saying one thing, meaning another. The tragedy — and the waste — is not that his colleagues don’t realize it but rather that the presenter himself doesn’t realize it. There is no real commitment behind his words.
When we act without intention requests are vague. Delivery dates are assumed or proposed without confirmation. Agreements are not explicitly obtained. Due dates shift and derail without clear dialog. Expressions of satisfaction with the delivery, or of dissatisfaction, are absent. Closure is rarely achieved.
Even worse than these mechanical flaws, we are all familiar with the attendant interpersonal breakdowns. Team members are silent about their cynicism toward a proposed request. Real engagement is lacking, and there is little incentive for contributing any discretionary effort above and beyond. People work on their favored assignments and leave other tasks to decay without any communication. These behaviors inevitably lead to low trust and waste.
We have accepted this dysfunction for a long time. It’s time to recreate our working relations around the foundational principle of speaking and acting with intention. Speak with intention, and your actions take on new purpose. Speak with power, and you act with power.
Acting with intention has observable hallmarks. Requests are made to a specific performer with clear expectations stated as to level of effort and the desired due date. These are “requests”, not assignments just doled out. The performer responds explicitly with an agreement or a counter proposal. A commitment is negotiated and forged between the two parties. Clarity and transparency build trust between both parties. The quality of the ensuing dialog between performer and requestor removes vague assumptions and instead forms clear and realistic agreements. More specifically, committed action involves a certain grammar in a particular sequence. Specific words used in conversation convey truth and create action. These language rituals build trust between colleagues.
Our CommitKeeper software helps users become more mindful of the ways in which they are communicating, and guides them in making and receiving commitments in the work situation in a more conscious way. CommitKeeper helps users to speak and act with intention.