Intention is to Conversation What Mission is to Organization

If you’ve ever said to yourself in the middle of a conversation, “how did I get here?” then you know how easy it is to get pulled off course. If there’s one skill an executive needs, it’s the ability to set a conscious intention. The skill of intention-setting allows the executive to direct the conversation to achieve a desired outcome.

Often what happens is just the opposite. Leaders get caught up in an argument. The conversation gets off course. Misunderstandings happen, followed by verbal ping pong.

  •  “Yes I did.”
  • “No you didn’t. “
  • “You are completely wrong.”
  • “You are so closed minded.”
  • “I’ll prove it.”
  • “You don’t have the facts to prove it. It’s just your opinion.”
  • “You never listen to me.”
  • “Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black.”

The reason for the drift is simple: There was no north star.

The leader didn’t know how to set a conscious intention before the performance conversation. In any conversation there are many intentions swirling around vying for attention. For example, you intend to give feedback, but your feedback is perceived as threatening. Now the other person intends to one-up the conversation. “That’s not fair,” they say, as they erupt in anger. You take the bait, and now the conversation is off course.

If you want to control the direction of the conversation, the first step is to set a conscious intention so that all the other intentions don’t take you off course.

Intention controls the conversation and it’s up to the executive to own the intention.

Bottom Line: A strong intention keeps performance conversations focused and forward moving.
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Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker and the author of “Stop Workplace Drama” (Wiley 2011) and the author of “No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015). Visit her website, and connect via LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.