15 – Intent vs. behavior. – 3:05

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#15 Intent vs. behavior. – 03:05

Everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment, given their awareness, skills, experience, and knowledge. If this is true, why do some people’s apparent negative behavior sometimes affect us the way it does? There are any number of reasons. First, we have unclear or unrealistic expectations of them. Two, we have our own stuff, psychological and emotional issues that we are dealing with. Three, we have more or less of a history with that person. Some of it positive and some of it negative. Four, we have erroneous definition of faults. Five, we are masters at projection and mirroring. Six, we don’t take the responsibility for our contribution to the problem or issue. Seven, we have personal blind spots. Eight, we are insecure or have low self-esteem. Nine, we have put these people on a pedestal. And 10, we lack tolerance, acceptance, or patience.

If there is an inconsistency between a person’s behavior and their words, the behavior will always be a more accurate reflection of where they are in consciousness than the words they may use. The reason for this is that the words are a conscious activity and behavior is generally an unconscious activity. Note I said generally. Many people consciously behave in certain ways because they are trying to send a certain message to the other person. They may say, “I love you” for example, but their behavior or actions are totally contradictory to the words they’re choosing to use. How can you know what a person’s real intent is? You must pay close attention to all the subtle, as well as more evident, nonverbal signals. Sometimes it does no good whatsoever to ask them how they feel or what they want. You can assume that if they wanted you to know, they would be telling you the truth in the first place.

I’m not much of a television watcher, but a few years ago while flipping through the channels, I stopped for a few minutes to an evening sitcom. The wife was saying, “What are you thinking?” The husband responded, “If I wanted you to know what I was thinking, I would be talking.” This is not necessarily true. Real intent is the crux of all behavior. We may do our best to mask our real feelings, attitudes, or issues, but sooner or later, our behavior will give us away.

The other side of this complicated issue is when a person sends you mixed or incorrect signals hoping the person will catch your meaning or intent. The problem is that most people pay more accurate attention to the words that are used and less to the emotions, feelings and other various nonverbal clues that are sent. It takes a very open, vulnerable, safe, and honest relationship that is free of judgment, criticism and validation and retribution to always know what the other person’s real intent is. Learn to stay focused in the present, resist the tendency to look for what you want to see, hope is there or even worse, pretend isn’t there. Responding to nonverbal clues when your partner needs support, acceptance, or just a kind word is far better than requiring them to verbalize their wants or needs. The ability to respond to these needs without the need for words speaks volumes about your connection to the other person and your willingness to be supportive and understanding.