Have you ever been in a situation where your good intentions were completely misinterpreted? This can often occur in stressful situations. When we act in good faith and then we find out later others didn’t receive our actions in the same light. I know from personal experience it is very frustrating. It seems very unfair and it is easy to assign blame onto the other person. Their perspective is completely unreasonable, how could any normal person think that?
Good intentions can easily lead to broken relationships
Does this sound at all familiar? My guess is we have all experienced this, some more than others. It becomes troublesome when trust and relationships breakdown as a result. What started as a misunderstanding, quickly becomes a chasm of broken trust, maybe never to be recovered. This is what happens when we are blind to our own part and only focus on others.
The key is taking responsibility for our own actions and their impacts. Let me explain. We do something and the other person interprets it negatively. If we expect the other person to change how they see the world, we will wait a long time and end up disappointed. People don’t change unless it is in their interests. They definitely won’t change because we want them to. The only thing we can change is ourselves. If we want to generate a different interpretation and outcome, we need to change our actions.
We do this by asking for feedback. When we genuinely seek to understand how our actions were received, we are being vulnerable, and it builds trust. It helps us see both sides and we learn what we need to change to generate a different, more desirable outcome.
Self-awareness is key for any leader
People who do this well become very self-aware. They learn how to bring others along with them. In my experience, this is a key skill for any leader, and one that separates the successful ones from the average ones. After all, leadership is all about declaring a future that others commit to achieve. If nobody wants to come along with you, your leadership impact will be very small.
The next time you feel misunderstood, ask for feedback. How did they interpret what you did or said? You will learn a lot about yourself and them.