#1 Team Communication Tip

Today’s Teamwork Explorer Tip is the Ace of Diamonds, Impact/Intention. (Need to know more about our approach to teamwork?) See our Teamwork Explorer blog post.)


One of the best books we’ve read on enhancing communication is Douglas Stone et al’s Difficult Conversations.  This book is a goldmine of practical advice and we have summarized a couple of their main ideas for our Ace of Diamonds (communication) card.  As we tell our coaching clients, the concept is simple in concept but amazingly difficult to live.  We judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by the impact they have on us.  This applies to disagreements about why your spouse didn’t get the groceries to deeply held hurt and pain about organizational life.

I was working with a team just recently that exemplifies this last point.  The organization was under financial and time pressure to make some changes and the leader of the team needed to act quickly.  He had the best intentions of his team members in mind but, for a plethora of reasons, the impact of his decision had disastrous effects. His team members assumed he had deliberately set out to hurt them. The hurt feelings went underground and by the time I came to work with the team all sense of trust had broken down.  Had any of them been able to follow the tips listed below, they may not have lost a lot of valuable time and saved themselves huge pain and frustration. His team members needed to suspend their judgment and talk to him about his intentions and he, in turn, needed to be more attuned to the emotional impact of his decision, and acknowledge that he may not have handled the situation in the best way.

Ace of Diamonds – Impact/Intention (Douglas Stone)

Awareness Gap

We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their impact on us.

Our assumptions about intentions are often inaccurate

  • Solution: Disentangle impact/intention
  • Hold your view as a hypothesis
  • Inquire about their intentions

Good intentions don’t sanitize bad impact

  • Solution: Listen for feelings
  • Be open to the complexity of your intentions

What other tips do you have for improving communication on a team?

Curious about the rest of the tips and want to know all about them now? Then download the free Teamwork Explorer iPhone app now! More interested in the actual paper based set of cards?  Visit our store!

Teamwork Explorer

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