Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Haven Communication Model – Intention, action and Words

The Holy trinity of Intention action andcommunication is one that can distinguish a good leader from a bad one. When leaders are able to effectively action their intentions and communicate the same they are able to achieve desired results and outcomes.

Individuals within an organization will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviours and decisions. As we said in our last case study on the topic, while people tend to judge themselves based on intentions, they judge others based on actions. As a leader, it is imperative that your behaviours reflect your values and your vision.

Lets say you need to get a buy in from your team on a new initiative, it becomes crucial that you demonstrate its importance through your words and deeds. The leader’s behaviour, actions and words must all  work in tangent to arouse within the team the feelings of trust, motivation and acceptance in order for them to lend their support and devote their time to the goal. Dissonance of any sort between action,  intention and words will lead to feelings of mistrust and delay  or jeopardise the intended buy-in.

Lets see some examples of when our actions don’t align with our words/intentions

When a manager gives a pep talk to his whole team on how important it is for them to put in the hours to meet deadlines but leaves early each day  and especially so on Fridays

When managers  encourage teams to come up with creative solutions but when the solution does not work is unsupportive and criticizes time them for wasting time and  money and belittles them.

When we tell our children that there are consequences for their actions so that they will learn how to behave, but when it comes down to it and the work involved in keeping up the punishment/consequence is too much and we let is go and let them have their way.

In all these cases we see the intention was perhaps right (tomotivate, to encourage and the teach good behaviour) yet when actions don’t match up, the purpose it lost.

In the first case the manager is viewed as a fraud and loses credibility with his team for not walking the talk. In the second he is viewed as a hypocrite (someone who says something but believes another) and in the third case the parent is viewed as someone who can be easily manipulated and taken advantage of.

In my pursuit of understanding the intention – action gap further, I stumbled upon the Haven communication model. This model was developed as a tool to help people understand the various  facets of communication.

Keeping in mind the bigger picture or context of the interaction we can see in this model the interconnectedness between Intention, action perception, interpretation and  feeling .

One of the circles in the diagram above contains the word perceptions.  This word attributes to the inputs we receive from our 5 senses  – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste –In themselves, these have inputs don’t mean much but our brain processes these both consciously and subconsciously to arrive at meaning and conclusions.. It is through this  interpretation that we make sense of all the inputs received by our senses.  Based on our interpretations we experience feelings. Feeling that could be positive or negative Positive feelings reinforce intentions and actions whereas negative feelings make us want to retract and rethink. They invoke mistrust and contempt.

This model can be applied to ourselves to double check if our actions are in sync with our intentions understand the inputs someone may receive from these actions and consider the interpretations and feelings it may evoke in them.

It may also be applied to someone else’s actions and behaviours,   to assess their true intentions or to have a better grasp over a given interaction, situation or a person. Like the  old adage goes, it is one viscous circle of thoughts words and actions,

Watch your thoughts, they become your words;watch your words, they become your actions;watch your actions, they become your habits;watch your habits, they become your character;watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

                                                                             Lao Tzu

The Holy trinity – Action Intention and Communication

It’s the start of New Year and we are all victims of the “resolutions” and “Fresh Start” bug. A viral that is in the air and somehow everyone seems to catch it. And yes, like most viral infections it runs its course and eventual we are cured of it! I am yet to meet an individual who has been able to keep a New Year resolution beyond the 30 day mark.

It is the one time of the year we resolutely attach actions to our intentions. Intentions that may have been around a long time. Intentions that we have had trouble auctioning. Towards the end of Jan or early February, we find it difficult again to keep up and they end up in the graveyard of resolutions.

In the field of psychology this is called the action intention gap. This weakness of will is caused when the conscious aspect of our intentions get disrupted by unconscious, automatic ones, leaving us to respond to the environment around us.

Like when we hear dieters say “I never intended to eat it, it’s almost like my hand moved by itself and reached for it and before I knew it I had eaten it” This is not far from the truth. Research has shown that we do things that are the opposite of our intentions almost unconsciously and we are unable to stop ourselves. This is because our unconscious mind seems to take over unless we are able to program it to not respond and allow the conscious mind to act.

Whatever be the reasons for not being able to keep our resolves, we are, at the end of the day defined by our actions. A lovely quote I came across read “we judge ourselves by our intentions and other by their actions” this could not be truer.

It brings to mind several instances – A manager who thought about a particular team member who he knew could do with a little extra support. He often internally debated on what he could do to support his team member but in the rigour of everyday work pressures and deadline never did action it. While he judged himself on his intention to help, the only thing the employee experienced was a manager who never reached out.

To overcome such pitfalls, It is important to view ourselves from an external stand point. See what others see of us to understand what perceptions we are feeding to.

The third prong I found in this action intention trinity is that of communication. Many times the gap between action and intention can be bridged by communication and greatly widened by non-communication. If we communicate intention to do something we also tend to be more committed to doing it. Similar to how so many people take to social media to keep their resolutions – 100 day run challenge – where someone swears to run a mile or 2 every day and post it – it is hard to get lazy and not do it when you have a thousand virtual eyes watching you!

Communicating our intentions and our subsequent actions also helps us create a value for what we bring to the table and why we bring it at all. It helps our co-workers family and friends understand us better and clearly assign intentions to our actions and actions to our intentions.

It is this Holy trinity of action, intention and communication that will help us manage our selves and manage perceptions effectively.

Hence, as we grow older and more self-aware, this holy trinity of action intention and communication could act us a beacon, leading us to better manage ourselves and how people perceive us.