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Your intention is what keeps tripping you up.

In a recent article where I wrote about understanding what it’s like to be on the receiving end of you, one particular example I gave seemed to have hit people the hardest. It was the example of a person who is constantly trying to convince others that they know everything, that they’re always right. Basically, that they’re better then you are. Whoever you are.

So I gave that particular trait more thought. I thought about the people who I know who regularly behave that way. I thought, quite embarrassingly, about the times where I may have behaved that way. And it occurred to me, when people engage in this type of behavior they often honestly think they’re helping. They think the information they have is important for you to know. They want to help you do whatever it is you are doing. They want to save you from yourself.

The problem is that they’re not really in the moment with you having a conversation. They’re in their own heads trying to make themselves feel more important, get over insecurity, trying to pull one over on their low self-esteem.

The conversation that is taking place – whatever the topic – becomes a conduit that is all about how they can make themselves feel better.

Here’s the thing: most of what you say comes with two intentions.

There is the surface intention that has to do with the conversation at hand.

And there is the underlying intention that has to do with whatever piece of your psyche is demanding your attention at the time. The unresolved issues that crop up and mess up all your efforts at communicating effectively.

It’s this underlying intention that trips you up. Suddenly a sales conversation becomes all about your self worth. A boss or customer complaint turns into a story in your head that you’re not good enough.

So what do you do to make sure all your efforts at growing your business, building your team, improving your relationships aren’t derailed by some unresolved issues without spending thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on therapy?

• Be aware of your triggers. The good news here is often just being aware of something that crops up for you can help keep it at bay. Personally, I know that when I feel insecure I tend to interject myself too much into a conversation….trying to prove I’m smart enough to be involved. Once I figured that out, I could keep an eye out for it happening and stop myself.

• Be in the moment with active listening techniques. When you truly focus on the person you’re speaking with, the underlying intentions are less likely to crop up because you’re keeping your focus where it should be – externally instead of internally.

• Be prepared for emotionally charged conversations beforehand. It’s okay to admit that certain conversations and certain topics are more difficult for you than others. While you can’t predict every conversation that will crop up during the day, if you know ahead of time something is likely to be a bit of a minefield you stop it from letting it take you by surprise; meaning you’re more in control of yourself.

• Take this advice that I have seen attributed to Rumi, as well as a few others: Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “is it true?” At the second gate ask, “is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “is it kind?”

You can never fully remove that underlying intention from your communications, but that’s really okay. If you master nothing else, having the intention of building up instead of breaking down will always serve you well.

Erin Marcus is an author, speaker and communications specialist helping organizations to “Conquer the Conversation,” and create improvement in sales, customer service and team dynamics. To bring Erin to your event or business, visit, email or call 847-868-4464.

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