Intent Does Not Always Equal Impact

This post continues a series I’m writing this summer based on Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust. For those who have taken training based on the book (such as Inspiring Trust, or Leading at the Speed of Trust), you know the materials include what looks like a deck of cards. People love these Trust Action Cards!

Each card details one of the 13 Behaviors Covey outlines in his book as the keys to building and maintaining trust. The front provides a simple, hand-held reminder of what the right behaviors look like, as well as what the Opposite behaviors look like. The back gives examples of What to Say to demonstrate the behavior, as well as illustrates Counterfeit manifestations of the behavior (when someone demonstrates the opposite).

This time the focus is on Create Transparency. The FRONT of the card says:

  • Definition: Tell the truth in a way people can verify for themselves. Declare your intent. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic. Err on the side of disclosure. Be transparent about not being able to be transparent (e.g. the law or ethics preclude it). Operate on the premise of “what you see is what you get”. Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information.
  • Opposite: To hide; to cover up; to obscure

The BACK of the card says – What to Say (examples):

  • My intent is . . .
  • My agenda is . . .
  • The outcome I have in mind is . . .
  • These are the hard facts . . .
  • Disagree with me on this . . .
  • Things aren’t going well right now.

Counterfeit: Having hidden agendas, hidden meanings, or hidden objectives. Creating illusion and making things appear different than they are. Pretending. “Seeming” rather than “being”. Withholding information.

My husband and I recently bought a new house. It took three tries to get the right house. On house #2, we ran into a realtor who, we believe, did not handle the transaction according to these principles. She represented the sellers of the house we wanted to buy. She had a hidden agenda and told us and our realtor one thing, but handled the situation with her clients a different way. We did not get to buy that house as a result, which disappointed us greatly. How often have you seen something similar in the workplace? In the marketplace? All too often, I’m afraid.

Remember both at home AND at work that intent does NOT always equal impact. What we say or do, and how it impacts those around us, are not always the same thing. Commit today to stating your intent up front. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in your relationships.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at People Results and certified to deliver Inspiring TrustShe can be reached on email at or on Twitter at @BetsyWinkler1.