My husband looked outside. He saw a plethora of blueberries. He quietly, calmly came into the house and enquired, “Are there any for us?” I responded that no, none of the blueberries were for us. He pouted. I was in the middle of doing something. I had been in the middle of doing something. All my husband was saying was that he was sad we didn’t have fresh blueberries, not the barrage of inadequate accusations I heard in my head.
After being gone for two weeks, I see the innocence in the expressions. I see the trepidation, newly formed?, in asking requests of the beleaguered others. I see the desire for change. I see the inability to see how they are part of the problem. That is, they cannot see how they are causing angst despite their best intentions.
We are reminded that we are judged upon our actions, not our intentions.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team indicates that a malfunctioning team malfunctions primarily because they don’t trust (ending with lack of accountability). Lencioni argues that we define trust wrongly, assuming it means outcomes when trust should mean intentions. So, when someone performs badly, we say that we can’t trust them even though they might have performed well before. Then, he connects that most people have good intentions.
I read this book almost five years ago, and for awhile I believed it – this newly construed definition of trust. But, then the question begs: how do you interpret intention? I’ve had a lot of meetings recently where everyone had the same intentions, but try as you might you couldn’t convince them that their conclusions were wrong! Intentions didn’t matter because there were other barriers to trust. Then, a friend posted this:
Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold – but so does a hard-boiled egg. ~Author Unknown
Intentions don’t matter. Another:
Intention doesn’t matter.
My husband intended to convey simple sadness with a lack of fresh blueberries. This other intends to share his industrial wisdom. For my husband, I heard something entirely different, overlooking his intentions entirely. For this other, colleagues hear the accusations of doing wrong instead of seeing the innocence in how he wants to help.
We are letting our egos get in the way of communicating. We are selfishly expecting the conversation to be about us instead of simply about blueberries.