Unveiling the intent

I have been attending a theatre workshop for the last few week(end)s now. Of the many interesting lessons I have learned, the one that has made the most impact on me is – ‘unveil the intent’. Let me explain…

“You have been a bad boy!” This very simple line can be said in many different ways. It can be a reprimand, it can also be a tease, or any of the many other possibilities on the continuum of emotions. How we read the line will depend largely on what the intent of the person saying it is. As an actor therefore, it is important to unveil the intent of the writer, so we are able to say the line right.

We were taught that to unveil the intent, we need to comprehend the context – who is saying this line to whom, when and most importantly why.

I believe this is a simple, yet powerful lesson…for not just actors, but all of us.

In any interaction, identifying the intent behind what the other person is saying is a challenge because we are using our lens to ascertain it. We end up reacting to a situation based on the behaviour we see, and not the intent (Stephen Covey wrote about this in his book ‘The speed of trust’ – “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour!”)

A colleague’s disagreement to our point may be construed as a personal attack, where the intent may just be to share a point of view or work towards the greater good of the project/team/organisation.

If we could only take a moment to think through and unveil the intent, we will be able to respond in a more appropriate way.

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