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Tangled Intentions

Tangled IntentionsA sudden crash followed by groans of despair echoed from the living room. Johnny came running into the room angry and upset. The lego tower he had worked so hard to build was destroyed! He and Jack had been playfully wrestling in the living room when Jack lost his balance and crashed into Johnny’s engineering masterpiece. Johnny was convinced that this was no accident…Jack had meant to destroy his tower. Anger erupted as Johnny declared, “He did it on purpose!”

Any eyewitnesses to the tragic loss of Johnny’s tower would have seen that he and Jack were mutually enjoying the wrestling match that triggered Jack’s topple into the tower. But in the heat of the moment, Johnny was convinced that Jack had intentionally destroyed his masterpiece. Johnny’s view of Jack’s intentions reflects our own natural tendencies to misplace judgment of another’s intentions.

You walk by the office to see your co-worker talking with the boss about that project that you are working on together. You immediately think…She purposely did not invite me into the meeting with the boss! She’s taking all the credit for the work that we both are doing!!!

Your best friend stays late at work for some last minute prep for a big client meeting tomorrow and fails to meet you at 6:30 for dinner as promised. Your mind starts spinning…She didn’t just forget about our dinner plans – she doesn’t care about me at all!

While it may not immediately present a problem to think negatively about another’s intentions, eventually these negative thoughts will impact your relationship with the other party. When talking with the colleague you observed talking with the boss, your thoughts about her intentions for that meeting will invariably impact your conversation. Your anger over your best friend’s supposed “lack of concern for you” will manifest eventually whether you directly express it or simply allow it to simmer below the surface.

Before giving your best friend a cold shoulder about a missed dinner date, step back, take a deep breath, and extend a bit of grace. Don’t allow presumption to sacrifice the success of your project or your relationship with your colleague. Untangle intentions from impact and have the courage to engage your colleague in conversation about the real purpose behind her meeting with the boss. You never know…she may have requested that meeting so she could brag on you!

To your tbl success,