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Intention in Relationships

Intention in Relationships

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that individuals in conflict often make assumptions about the intentions of the other person.

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Video Transcription

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It's easy to assume something about what another person does, and when individuals are in conflict, they often make assumptions about the other party's intentions. I'm Marlene, and in this tutorial today I'd like to talk with you about intention in relationship. Purposeful behavior and non intentional behavior. I

Think as human beings we like to think that everything we do is purposeful, that we're we're aware of our behavior and our intentions. And purposeful behavior is behavior which has a consciously selected objective or reflects an unconscious but felt objective.

So here are some examples of purposeful behavior. I mean, we all observe it. I think we all participate in it. You see somebody with a lot of groceries or bags, you go over and you help them. Somebody is stuck in a snow bank in a Minnesota winter, and a number of people will gather round and try to push the car out or go get a shovel.

You might have a friend who's really troubled about something, and you tell that friend call me at any time you want. Call me in the middle of the night if you need to talk. People do that for good friends. We help. We encourage. We listen. That's purposeful behavior. That's positive.

Now we may not want to admit it, but people may take purposeful behavior that is not constructive. A person might lie to somebody. They know they're lying. They're purposely lying. They might decide to purposely withhold information from somebody. Or they might purposely try to sabotage somebody at work perhaps, because they feel like they're competing maybe for a promotion. So those are negative behaviors that a person might engage in purposefully.

Now people also do things non intentionally. Total opposite of purpose. They didn't mean to do it. Their intention was not to do something constructive or negative. So non intentional behavior is behavior unrelated to a given objective. So there's no objective here.

So here are some examples of the non intentional behavior, and often times it's this non intentional behavior that can escalate a conflict or create a conflict. So you are feeling miffed because your friends all got together on a Friday evening and had a great time. They're talking about it, and nobody included you.

Now maybe this was just a spontaneous gathering. The friends happened to be together. They were at the mall. It was an evening out. Nobody intended to exclude you. It just happened. It was a spontaneous thing. But you're feeling as though they're not calling you to tell you about this was intentional. Why didn't they include me? What have I done wrong? Is someone upset with me? That kind of thought process. You start to engage in that.

Or perhaps you find out your best friend just had some great news. She just got a promotion at work. She's been wanting this. You find it out through a mutual friend, and you feel like her not calling you was intentional, and perhaps it wasn't. Perhaps this is not at all what she intended, not to get right back to you or let you know. But you are perceiving the fact that you were not the first person called some slight, some intentional slight.

You could say that perhaps someone thinks you arrived home late from the mall with the car, and you intentionally kept them from an appointment. You knew that I had to go to an appointment. Well, maybe you didn't. Maybe there was miscommunication here. But they're thinking that you're not looking out for them, that you're not thinking about their needs because you didn't come back in time. You didn't come back when you said you would.

So little things that may happen non intentionally can create conflict and harm relationships. So when people are in relationship and there is an ongoing conflict, many times as you begin to uncover what's at the root of the conflict, you will find that one party or the other has been making assumptions about the other person's behavior. And things that they thought the other person intended were really unintentional.

So how do we prevent this from happening? We can prevent it from happening by understanding, first of all, that it does happen. It happens all the time. We all engage in things that have unintentional consequences. We don't realize that what we're doing might be affecting somebody in a way that they're taking negatively and thinking perhaps we meant something by a particular action or statement that we made.

So if you're the person who feels miffed and you feel a distance in a relationship which was once close-- or perhaps it's with a coworker, and you have a nice relationship and now not so good-- it's good to always communicate about whatever it is you think is happening. Realize you might have made an assumption here and that what you think of as intentional purposeful behavior may be unintentional.

What can happen and lead into a full blown conflict is when a number of small unintentional behaviors escalate and create more and more relational and communication problems between parties. Then the conflict will escalate. So I enjoyed being part of this tutorial with you and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know
Non-Intentional Behavior

Behavior unrelated to a given objective.

Purposeful Behavior

Behavior which has a consciously selected objective or reflects an unconscious (but felt) objective.