Intention: Are you selling or being sold?
A good friend of mine says, “You’re either selling or being sold.” Sometimes, we think we are selling when we are really being sold, and vice versa. However, if we look at our communication from the perspective of intention, things become clearer.
Consider your own experience:
Think of a recent presentation or conversation where you felt you did not get the response for which you were hoping.
What was your original intention for being there? Did you align your remarks and responses with your intention? Did your intention somehow change during the presentation? What did you accomplish? Is what you accomplished, different than what you originally intended? What do you think your real intention was? Now think of a recent presentation that was successful for you. What was your intention going into it? Did that change? What did you hope to accomplish? In retrospect, was your intention the same as what you accomplished? If it wasn’t, then what do you think your real intention was?
Lack of clear intention sabotages communication
The intention is a cornerstone of communication. When the intention is precisely aligned with content and delivery, you have the most significant impact. That is, if you intend to close a sale, have great supporting facts and arguments, and sound well-informed, trustworthy and confident, you will have more success closing that sale. This is especially important because, as I discussed in an earlier post, intention can be heard in your voice!
However, discovering your intention in communication is sometimes more difficult than it would seem. It requires you to be clear about what you want, how you want others to perceive you and also clear about what the others want. As you uncover your intentions, you may begin to see how you unwittingly sabotage your communication.
Discover your intention
Begin by asking yourself what you hope to accomplish. Be as clear as possible about what you want the end result to be. It can be helpful to imagine the discussion is already finished, and envision the most desirable outcome. Here are some possible intentions:
- You want the other person to reach a decision.
- You want to reach a decision.
- You hope to enlist others in a specific project.
- You want them to buy your product.
- You want people to leave with a certain feeling.
- You want them to leave knowing what action to take.
- You want them to leave feeling satisfied and happy.
- You want them to take you to lunch or sponsor you at a conference.
And by the way, I suggest that we all be lofty and bold with our intentions because this is self-motivating as well as contagious. As hockey coach Fred Shero said, “Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” Set your intention as something worth working for and worth living for!
Keep the intention clear
Set your intention with the desired result in mind. Whatever the desired result, keep the communication clear by “checking in” with your intention often. Here’s how:
1. Be sure to state your intention clearly to yourself and to the others involved. For example, if you are interested in coming to an agreement with a group, state what the desired goal is, such as “We are going to take a couple of hours today to create a plan for the meeting next Friday.” You will be surprised how powerful this simple act can be. A client of mine recently sent me a note saying, “Thank you so much for this valuable piece of advice. I made my presentation to the new client I spoke to you about last week and it went quite well. I know it was the intention in my voice that did it.”
2. Take time to invite your partners in conversation or your audience/prospects to state their own intentions or to agree on an intention that works for all of you. Write it down for everyone to see. For example, if you are planning a meeting, ask everyone to state what they hope to accomplish in that meeting. List all of the intentions people bring to the table and prioritize them. You may discover you have an overall intention and several lesser intentions. Everyone will feel included, and it will be more possible to have the kind of conversation you want to have.
3. As the conversation progresses, remind yourself of your intention and check to see if you are staying focused on it. Don’t let the conversation get stuck on details that can be handled by a different discussion or by a sub-committee.
4. If you find that your intention changes during the conversation, identify the new intention in order to clarify your communication. Be open with the change. For example, if my intention is to plan a course of action with your help, but you don’t want to help, my intention probably needs to change. I might say, “Now, I want to understand why you don’t want to help.” It is possible to get to a solution instead of staying “stuck” in a difference of opinion by setting this as one of your intentions: We agree that we can disagree and still find an answer.
Finally, how about this for intention?
I mentioned choosing an intention that is lofty and bold. I leave you with one possible intention that can set your world on fire:
It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely?
Leo F Buscaglia.
How do you work with intention in your business? Please share your experiences!
This post is part of a blog carnival created by Angela DeFinis. Please click here to read some great posts about The Impact of Public Speaking on Top Sales Performance.