Why We Have Different Experiences

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This post is part of a series around the communication model Intent, Action and Effect. See the other posts here.

2012-07-03 13.55.18An uncle and his nephew went to a parade in their local community. They sat for a couple of hours watching the floats go by, gathering a candy stock, and waving at the people occupying the floats. After the parade the uncle and his nephew were chatting about the parade over a sprinkle donut and the uncle asked his nephew, “So, what was your favourite part of the parade?”
The nephew responded, “The trucks!”
“Uh what? Not the clowns or the magicians, or the marching band?” said the uncle.
“Are you kidding? They had Mac trucks, Peterbilt trucks, and all kinds of other trucks!” (Story modified from Difficult Conversations)
How often does this happen to us? We experience the same action as another person and walk away from the action with a totally different perspective that happened. It happens at staff meetings, conversations with our bosses or employees, and even with our partners and kids.
If you take a look at the image above, you’ll notice that there are two realms. Intent and Effect typically live in the private realm and Action lives in the public realm. An action would be defined as the thing that someone did or said (or didn’t do). It’s the joke told at the lunch table, it’s the snide remark from your employee, it could even be not saying good morning to the folks around you. Essentially, it’s something that everyone present can experience and interpret.
So how can we experience the same action and walk away with different perspectives? The other day I was meeting with a client and he was talking about a situation where a person, who he was in conflict with, brought coffee for the team. That person put the purchased coffee’s down on the table, announced that coffee was there, and walked away. People came up, grabbed a coffee and went back to their desk. When my client walked up to the table, there was no coffee left. He was hurt as he felt that it was done on purpose to spite him.
There’s two things that generally make up our view of these actions. The first is that we all have different backgrounds. We have different upbringings, heritage, cultures, education, and experiences. All these things give us the context in which we view the action that we are experiencing. Secondly, and I’ll talk about this in a different post, we view the person through our past experiences with that person.
Often we view an action as a fact or truth. Which it is…it’s our truth. It’s what’s true for us. I’ve talked about this before, that there is typically a reasonable reason for unreasonable behaviour.


In the coming posts, we’re going to talk about the intent of the action and the effect that the action had on the other person, so if you don’t want to miss that, sign up for the newsletter below!

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  • Richard Balliger Sr
    June 11, 2015, 12:31 am  Reply

    Intent defines action. Reason defines intent. Reason and intent defines Fate or Destiny. Fate is the father of fear force and Death. Destiny is the mother of all life, the pure anotomicenergy that peaceful minded live in example of unselfish unlimited joy.

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