This past week has been tough on former Vice President Joe Biden. Several women have come forward to say they were uncomfortable with Biden’s touchy-feely ways such as hugs, forehead kisses and other instances when he invaded their personal space.
Biden’s response? That wasn’t my intent.
As I discussed in a previous FB live, your intent doesn’t matter.
How your message is received is what matters.
As George Bernard Shaw once said (or didn’t, who knows, but it’s a great quote), “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
In this case I’d say the biggest problem in communication is assuming other people understand your intent.
We tend to think that intent covers all manner of sins. Listen to kids play (and fight) and you’ll hear, “I didn’t mean to!” as if that makes whatever happen, ok.
Regardless of your intent, if the person you’re communicating with receives a different message, that’s on you.
Great communicators are constantly adjusting their message both in terms of content and delivery. By watching how people respond to your message, you can adjust accordingly. In my work I teach people how to read permission; the nonverbal indicator of receptivity.
And that’s exactly where Joe Biden went wrong. He assumed permission he didn’t have. This is often the case for people in power positions. Because those around them are afraid or intimidated, they don’t often clearly communicate their discomfort or fear. Which is why people in those positions must never assume permission and instead, play it safe.
This, by the way, has nothing to do with being politically “correct.” Regardless of the message or the context, if you want to succeed at communication, you’ll keep an eye on how your listener responds to your message instead of merely relying on your good “intentions.”
Sari's passion is to help you TAP into your power from the inside, out. "Power Tools" provides real talk that gives you tools and reminders for tapping into your power instead of giving in to your excuses.