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Good Intention

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Excuses > Good Intention

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When you have done something that is seen as being bad in some way by other people, show that you only had the best of intentions.

Show surprise, but then listen carefully and acknowledge that your actions led to the distress of others and indicate how you wanted to be helpful, or at least not harmful in any way. Say that what actually happened was a mistake, a misunderstanding or a poor decision.

If necessary, call on or refer to others to attest to your naturally good character. Offer apology and, as appropriate, offer to take some action to restore harmony.

Example

Oh, I didn't mean it like that. I guess it would seem ambiguous. Sorry, I didn't take enough care with the wording. What I really meant is...

John, is that the sort of thing I would want? Come on, you know me. I care a lot. Clearly there's been some misunderstanding.

Discussion

This excuse is particularly common when somebody else's feelings have been hurt or they are upset in some other way. It is sometimes difficult to guess what people will feel when we say or do something, as we often assume they will react in the way we would react. It is also true that perhaps we do not think enough about what others might feel.

When people are blamed for something there is a tacit assumption that they are bad (this is at the root of many arguments). Talking about intent reframes your purpose as being good.

Using others as references to your character is a useful way of persuading here, as when an accuser believes you are bad then they may not trust you or accept your arguments. If they know and trust the referee, then they will most likely accept their testimony.

See also

Formulating intent

 

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