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  • Gary Borland

#57 Intent and Motive



Untangling intent and motive requires courage.


It could be argued that everything is created in language. Concepts and ideas need to be described in some way. Things that exist and that we can see, touch, smell and feel have language associated with them. That language can take many forms such as spoken, written, signed, expressions, gestures, drawing, art and many others. Conversation is often where we exchange ideas, views, beliefs, and information, but there can also be something going on behind the words. When you start a conversation, respond to what someone says, or contribute to an ongoing discussion, how often do you consider the intent and motive of your words?


The purpose or intent of what we’re saying might seem obvious but dig a bit deeper and it’s likely there are occasions when it’s not as clear as we might imagine. Being intentional requires us to create a space in which we can bring focus and clarity to what we say. What we say – or what we think we say – is often not what someone hears. You may believe that your words are building someone up, but the outcome might be that the other person experiences being pulled down. An example might be the speaker saying “You’ve really got the hang of this now”. The listener might hear something very different like “Thank goodness you’re not still messing this up”. Being more focused on your intent and your words significantly increase the likelihood of your intent being more consistent with the desired outcome.


But what if the intent was really to make a point to the other person because you’re frustrated that they have been “………. messing this up”? Closely linked to purpose or intent is our motive – why are we saying the things we say? What is my underlying intent? And why? Untangling intent and motive can be challenging to engage with and will only start to become clear when we’re prepared to enter a deeper personal enquiry about our lives.


We’ve explored being in an enquiry in a previous blog, so here’s a convenient link #49 Enquire about Enquiries. In the next Blog we’ll explore some of the ‘why behind our words and offer considerations that can help free us from some of the behaviours that might be getting in the way of living a purposeful and fulfilled life with healthy relationships.

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