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Guide Overview

Intent VS Impact Rule

A rule to follow during conflict discussions, focusing on the impact of actions rather than the intent behind them.
March 2, 2023
Summary Notes

- Understanding the difference between intention and impact is crucial in simplifying the conflict process.

- Intention refers to the driving force behind a person's behavior or choices and is unique to each person.

- Impact refers to the effect of someone's behavior or choices on another person's emotional stability or situation.

- It is important to focus on the impact and how it made you feel in a conflict, rather than trying to guess or assign the other person's intention.

- Negative intentions may stem from past traumatic experiences or from being in a relationship with a narcissistic or abusive person (5% of cases).

- When in conflict, it is important to focus on the impact and express it to the other person, setting boundaries if necessary.

- Instead of trying to guess or assign someone's intention, it is best to ask them directly. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the other person's choices and behavior.

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I'm gonna give you a tip that is gonna help simplify your conflict process. It starts by understanding that there is a difference between intention and impact. Let's say I have an important meeting and my husband is supposed to watch the kids, but he gets stuck in traffic and is late, and so I'm late for my meeting.

The impact is that I'm late for my meeting, and maybe that creates some tension with work or creates some disappointment in someone I'm working. , but the intention is something that only my husband can own and tell me. We often ascribe intention to other people based on our own intentions, the things that we do and the reasons that we do them, or based on things we've been accused of and growing up, like how did our parents think about why we did the things we did, and then.

Were you projecting that onto our partners? When you bring intention into a conflict, now you are in a boundary issue because only I have true ownership of what I intended. Only I can say with clarity and truth. This is the what or the why that was driving my choice or my behavior. The conflict there around someone not showing up when they said they were going to, and it affecting you in some way.

It's a tricky conflict and there's a lot to discuss there. You know, what was your plan? What happened? Was there something out of your control? Um, empathy from him to me in understanding the impact it had on me and empathy from me to him in whatever it was that got in the way of him being on time. Now imagine if I threw in this intention thing and I started saying, I think you just don't care about my meetings and my time.

I think you're selfish or even more sinister. I think you're trying to sabotage. Up because you're jealous of me. The only way that we should be addressing attention during our conflicts is to be asking our partners, what was going on for you? What were you thinking? Or very vulnerably, Hey, I'm afraid that you don't care about my meeting.

Is that true? But we always hand over the ownership or authority of someone's intention to. It. We can talk about the impact on us. This is how it made me feel. This is what it did to my situation. But we don't say why we think the person did something or what we think that underlying intent was because that belongs to them.

This is something that you struggle with. You constantly think that your partner is having a negative intention towards you. There are two likely possibilities of why that is. The first is potentially you're with a partner. Is narcissistic or abusive or wounded in some way that they actually do do things on purpose to harm and sabotage you and to dismiss and discredit you and your needs, which means you probably should consider moving on small percentage of that group of people who makes change.

It's about 5%. That's a statistic from Lendy Bancroft. Either way, I will say as a therapist, having worked with folks that have that type of a mindset, , it is very, very hard for them to change. And a possibility is that you grew up in a home where your caregivers were in some way emotionally chaotic or emotionally abusive, and they taught you to think in paranoid terms about other people's intentions.

Either they were always accusing you of having bad intentions, or they were talking about other people in such a way that you began to develop a theory of mind where. Approach relationship with the deep held belief that people will try to harm you on purpose. And if that rings true for you, it's probably worth doing some trauma therapy with a good therapist, maybe doing some EMDR therapy to help process some of that out of your body so that you can receive.

that people are actually for you, even if they do things that impact you negatively. Okay, so let's recap. Impact is what the other person's behaviors, choices, inactions did to your sense of emotional stability to how you felt about a situation. This is how it felt to me. Intention is why I think you did it.

And we leave intention and ownership of intention to each person. You can say, I don't want you to do X, Y, or z. That is an appropriate boundary. But you don't say to somebody, you did this because you don't care. You did this because you're trying to do these things to me. You ask them, why did you do this?

What do I need to understand? And often you'll be surprised at how much meaning there is underneath people's choices and behaviors that you would never have known was there if you didn't ask.