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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

When do you most successfully connect intent and impact?

"I didn't intend to offend you..."

"My intention was not to leave you out..."

"I didn't mean to discount your opinion at the staff meeting..."

"I don't know why she quit, just because I told her what I thought..."

Intent is only half the battle, isn't it? When we stop with "I didn't intend to..." we're only putting our attention on part of what just happened.

The other half is "I'm noticing how my action impacted you..." or "I'm noticing a disconnect between what I intended and how this landed for you."

"I noticed that when I told you my thoughts, you seemed to withdraw from the conversation... my intention was to share my thoughts, not to criticize your way of doing things."

"I am afraid that my words, though not intended to be harsh, hurt your feelings."

"I'm worried that I harmed you through my actions, though that was not my intent."

Shifting our focus from "my intent/what I thought I was doing" to "impact/how it affected you" helps us see the bigger picture and get closer to connecting with others with kindness and compassion. It also helps expand the story for ourselves, as well as the person we are in relationship with.

It is healthy to breathe space into our intent, recognizing it is only half of the equation.

Consider these three ways to successfully connect intent with impact more of the time...

Stop and give it a second. Before you blow your top, or say an unkind thing about a coworker, or pressure someone to do more with less, consider the potential impact of your behaviors. Take a breath and give it a second. And then consider what you actually want the impact to be and match your behaviors to that.

  • "I want you to understand I am unhappy about what just happened."

  • "I am feeling pressured about our call schedule - let's talk this through before we all lose it."

  • "I am feeling left out by the department chair, I want to feel valued and included."

Own your intention, while calling out the impact you see. When our words and actions land in alignment with those receiving them, we feel closer, more connected, understood. When they do not land, we can own our intention while also recognizing the impact. Both/and.

  • "Ooops, I see that didn't land well. My intention was to call out something that is a problem for me, but let me see if I can try a different way."

  • "I tried really hard to explain my position, but I can see we are pretty far apart. Can we try it again?"

  • "I'm so sorry, I was careless with my words. I never intend to hurt you, but I can see that is what just happened. Let me try again."

  • "Can you give me a minute? I'm pretty upset and I would like to show up feeling stronger so that I don't say things I will certainly regret."

Recognize that it can be hard in the moment; pause and then repair. If you are not able to pull intent and impact together in the moment, don't despair - you are still way ahead of the game. Consider after the fact and come back around.

  • "I'm so sorry about the harsh words earlier today. My intent is to be a kind, self-aware mother and I got way off track. Please accept my apologies and I will try again."

  • "I'm sorry that my comment hurt your feelings. My intent is always to be honest and kind, but I realize it came off as brutal and critical. Please accept my apology."

  • "I am tired; I am going to step back and rest so that I can show up with intention for you and ours and say things I will be proud of, instead of things I regret."

The story of our conversations is only over when we stop participating. We can continue to step in, step up, own it.

Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.


Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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