“…But That’s NOT What I Meant!”

Conflict.  Conflict always brings about a journey to discover that which is absolute truth.  Well, while absolute truth is the theoretical destination, most opportunities of conflict lead to the revelation of individual perspective truth.  For purposes of discussion let’s characterize absolute truth to mean all that is factual and literal.  Absolute truth can be further described as the elements of “what is…” without interpretation, manipulation or discrimination from any external source. Conversely, perspective truth envelopes the influence of that which absolute truth discards.  Stated differently, perspective truth can and does take into account many variables of external influence to complete its view of an experience.  Perspective truth can be characterized as the elements of truth as perceived by an individual that rely on personality filters, biases, anecdotal experiences, training, culture, belief and value measures, etc…  Perspective truth really is the truth “as I see it”.

Many a disagreement has occurred that causes someone to invariably declare, “…But that’s not what I meant!”  Only, at the point that this statement is uttered, that which has been spoken before has already had its effect.   In romantic relationships, as is true in all scopes of inter-personal communication, it is important to be aware of the words which we speak and their probable value to the person we are communicating with.

Nothing is more reckless than a person who is willing to speak totally unfiltered, without regard for where or how their words land.  Many people feel that all that they must worry about is whether or not the content of what they speak is valid or true.  While it is important to speak that which is true, there also has to be an awareness of how someone will receive the words of truth.

All communication is bi-lateral.  No matter what information or idea is being expressed, every communication experience has intent and every communication experience has impact.  The very measure of effective communication is when there is understanding of or sensitivity to the intent and impact of what is being said before it is said.   Having an understanding and appreciation for the elements of intent and impact can shape both the delivery method and the content of the information being expressed.  Many couples fall into the trap of “keeping it 100” and “getting it off my chest” as a means of expressing how open to the idea of communication they are.  However, failing to realize that once words are spoken, it is hard to retrieve the harm those words can cause, can ruin any opportunities of actually achieving the desired results.  What you intend to say and the impact of what you did say can be very different destinations.  The communication experience can take on a totally different tone when there is a break-down between what was said and how someone receives what is being said.  While, you cannot totally predict how someone will respond to your communication, it is always good to consider who you are talking to and how they may interpret what you are saying.

Undeliverable absolute truth is just as detrimental to effective communication as is false or perspective truth communicated via ignorance.

Communication is an art form.  Effective communication is a skill.  Learn to be slow to speak.  Reduce the conflict in your relationship by learning to evaluate what you want to say and how you may choose to say it before actually saying it.  It seems simple, right?  No matter what, your words will have some effect.  Seek to consider the impact of what you wish to say as you pursue the intent of saying what it is you wish to convey.

StevieD – Intent vs Impact 17-Feb-2012


Leave a comment


  1. Clarity is vital for communication that one might express exactly what they mean so miscommunication is not presented. Love this SDR!

  2. you already know

     /  February 21, 2012

    Excellent…..If I choose to be in the audience, Oracle, it is your responsibility to keep my attention. This piece speak volumes,and furthermore it addresses accurately the current dilemma in the human relationship.Love it!

  3. ls

     /  March 1, 2012

    eloquently spoken…


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