You Can’t Hit What You Don’t Aim For

Engaging in what might euphemistically be called a “lively” conversation often gets the better of me. Someone makes a statement I find patently ridiculous, and I feel the need to educate them.

As I’m writing, I can already envision their response, to which I’m already formulating my rebuttal.

My what? So, I’m already assuming they’re going to argue with me? Well, if that’s my attitude, it’s no wonder what I wrote garners an angry response.

taking aim

Intent is a powerful tool. In the “trust tree” it’s the trunk — the only portion that’s partly invisible, partly visible. Our intent begins inside, then becomes evident to others.

The Trust Tree

In “The Speed of Trust,” Stephen M. R. Covey uses the illustration of trust as a tree, with two main components: character and competence. Each has two components of its own.

Character is made up of integrity and intent. Underground this tree are the roots. They represent the part of trust that’s not visible to others: integrity. Others can’t see, just by looking at us, whether we have it or not. Partially hidden and partially above ground is the trunk: intent. Intentions can be hidden, or signaled by our actions.

Competence is made up of capabilities and results. Above are the branches, the visible supporting structure of the tree. That’s our capabilities, our skills. These are fairly evident to most observers. Finally, the fruit: results. Until we deliver results, real trust can’t exist.

Aiming the Arrow: Intent

If my intent is positive, if my intent is to share my views in a way that might motivate someone to change theirs, shouldn’t that hopeful, positive attitude be obvious in what I write?

How can it be, if my real intention is to tell them off?

If someone totally cheeses you off with their stupidity, try this (I intend to.) Envision not your words, but their response. Envision the perfect response, where they realize the error of their ways and wholeheartedly come over to your point of view.

Now, write words that will get that response. (For extra credit, envision their perfect response, which causes you to see the error of your ways and wholeheartedly go over to their point of view.)

You have a much better chance of hitting the target if you…

  1. know what it is, and
  2. actually aim at it

By the way — I’m writing a book about how and why we use and abuse words, and the havoc it wreaks in business communication. It will be called I Know You Think You Understand What I Said But What You Don’t Understand Is That What I Said Is Not What I Meant.

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