Intent over words

Productive intent is a pre-requisite for a good conversation. Polished and thoughtful delivery definitely help – but, they’re secondary. People listen for intent before they listen to the words.

That is why the most productive conversations typically involve people who trust each other.

In the absence of deep trust, there are only two other routes to productive conversations. The first is to build a reputation for having good intent and to lean on it. And, the second is to signal intent early. Start with appreciation and the why behind your feedback before you give your feedback.

Intent is what people remember when they’ve long forgotten the words.