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This is a repost of a blog from a few years ago that was recently brought to my attention.  I received a message from a reader that asked if I could point them to the follow-up posts that I alluded to in this post.  As I searched for the follow-ups I realized that I didn’t actually write any! So…in the coming weeks (this time) I’ll be posting more about this communication model and it’s awesomeness.  

Whenever I say Intent, Action, Effect it always feels like I’m saying lights, camera, action!
Anyways…let’s take a moment and look at this model together. I really like this model because we are able to break down virtually every conversation we have and talk about what our private motives were and what was the public event/action that took place.


Ok, so you have seen the pretty picture…but what does it mean? Let’s tackle this for a quick second.
Intent: Intent is why you said/did what you said/did. What was going through your mind when you said your comment or asked your question? What were your intentions with doing what you did? What were you hoping to achieve?
Action: The physical words or action that took place. The actual words that were said or deed that was done.
Effect: How the other person perceives the comment or action. How they receive the information that was portrayed.
So a quick example, whenever I am vacuuming our house my wife always reminds me to vacuum underneath the bed. Always. So let’s take a look at her (possible) intent. She might be thinking, “Hey, there are a lot of dust bunnies under the bed, I should probably remind him to vacuum there.” That sounds fairly reasonable right? So what’s the action? The action is the actual verbal comment to vacuum under the bed. What’s her effect on me? Well…most days it goes something like this; “Does she think I’m stupid? I always vacuum under the bed!”

Do you see where I’m going here?  This is where a lot of communication can breakdown.  We assume someone’s intent is harmful towards us, or we think the effect on them is minimal.  This happens in our own personal relationships, between co-workers, businesses, even between businesses and customers.

Over the next few weeks we will break down this model a bit so that you can use it in your own life.  What do you think of this model? Does it make sense?

Other posts in their series:

Why We Have Different Experiences

Intent Demystified

There’s Never Been A More Important Time To Learn About Effect

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