This is the second part of a series of posts. See Part One here.
There’s an old saying that goes: We judge ourselves by our intentions, and we judge others by their results. You judge them by the impact their words have on you, and NOT their intent because you don’t know their intent.
What that means is that it doesn’t matter what you intend, or what you mean, as much as it matters what results you create. If you say something offensive, even if your heart is full of loving, positive thoughts and feelings, it still comes across as offensive (the result).
It’s the subtle “less than” messages that are the relationship killers. Often you may not even be aware that you’ve said something that suggests the person is inferior in some way.
For example, “Are you REALLY going to say that to your boss?”. This communication sends a message of inferiority or not being good enough. The essential message is this: Not only are you “less than”, but I’m “better than you”. Competing to see who’s worse, and who’s best isn’t going to help resolve any actual problems. It just ends up with hurt feelings.
You already understand that HOW you say something (the tone) affects how other people interpret it. Words count for a lot, so you can’t expect to use a destructive phrase and hope that your tone will somehow cushion the blow. Don’t rely on tone to make up for destructive phrases or destructive presuppositions.
You can’t control what the other person does, but you can control what you do and say. Try to take the perspective that it’s up to me to make this better. It might not always work, but often the person will respond to your initiative in positive ways.
This is the second part of a series of posts. See Part Three here.