You get along well with your co-workers and enjoy a pretty drama-free job environment. Yet sometimes it is frustrating when people “take things the wrong way.”

Sometimes over-sensitive people are not the problem. This “misunderstanding” scenario may simply be a case of people perceiving the true intent behind your words. As Vineet Nayar wrote in his HBR blog called The Power of Intent, we don’t always align our communication with the true intent.

For example, we ask for feedback when we really don’t want to act on it. We outline a list of impressive goals for the year that we’re not 100% committed to achieve. We think we can give harsh feedback in the name of “helping” when our intent is otherwise.

Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall said it well:

“What is the quality of your intent?

Certain people have a way of saying things that shake us at the core. Even when the words do not seem harsh or offensive, the impact is shattering. What we could be experiencing is the intent behind the words. When we intend to do good, we do. When we intend to do harm, it happens. What each of us must come to realize is that our intent always comes through. We cannot sugarcoat the feelings in our heart of hearts. The emotion is the energy that motivates. We cannot ignore what we really want to create. We should be honest and do it the way we feel it. What we owe to ourselves and everyone around is to examine the reasons of our true intent.

My intent will be evident in the results.”

You may not be aware of your true intent. Take the time necessary to figure out where you stand before you communicate with others. Talk is cheap. Communication that is consistent with your genuine intentions is priceless.

Need help identifying and communication your true intent? Contact Humanergy.

Photo from iStockphoto.