I won’t give him my Attention until I know his Intention
This statement from a client really got me thinking how important it is to know someone’s intention before we pay attention to what they are trying to convey.
So many times, clients come into my office wanting help with communication skills; and actually, it’s a simple matter of asking questions to clarify intention, then pay attention to what they are saying. What happens in real life is, we are so quick to get defensive when someone asks a question instead of clarifying what the person really means, why they are bringing this up right now and are they really asking a question or harboring a criticism.
My favorite quote is about listening. “People don’t care how much you know, but they know how much you care by the way you listen.” And when you react immediately, defensively, you are not listening. You’re reacting to their stimulus without allowing for a space before you respond. Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, explains this concept as “between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose a response. In our response lies our grow and freedom.”
Therefore, knowing intention by asking questions, or repeating back what the person is saying to you, to clarify, is the key to effective communication. Don’t assume a question is an attack. Give your partner or whoever you’re talking to, the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are well founded. When you do this, you will notice your life will feel calmer, you’ll have less anxiety stressing over “what did they mean by that,” and be able to get in touch with your open-hearted authentic self; a person who is calm, curious, compassionate, connected, confident, creative, with courage and clarity.