Heartstyles blog

Intention Impression Impact


Andrew St. George – Heartstyles Accredited Associate

We all know about the phenomenon law of unintended consequences in many parts of political and commercial life.  A policy or strategy is intended to achieve one end, but produces quite another.  This is at work in our personal lives too.  We can have the best intentions, but then can make an awful impression, and can have a poor impact.

Let’s think about that sequence of thinking that catches the intention behind our behavior, the impression this makes on others, and the impact that follows – and it may well be that the impact is very different from our original intention.  So we have three things: Intention, impression, impact.

Here’s an example.  I was packing for a family camping trip recently.  I wanted all (five) of us and our dog to have a great time.  At least, that was my intention.  That meant, as far as I was concerned, making provision for everything that a camping trip might have in store for us – both positive and negative.  And so this meant packing carefully for all conditions, as well as storing treats (we all love fresh coffee) and luxuries (surprise chocolates, tasty dog chews).  These things cannot be left to chance.  So – aside from personal items – I did all the packing for everyone.

My intention was for everyone to have a great time.

But the impression I gave was controlling, micro-managing. 

And the impact was that the family felt disempowered, not trusted – even to help pack.  Worse, I had taken away from the family members the joy of packing for themselves and learning about how to prepare for a long trip – so they missed out on lots of growth and development.  This impact was entirely counter to my intention. 

How did we resolve the situation?  We unpacked everything, and with a bit of humility, I was able to learn and everyone was able to enjoy the preparation from the start.

Often, in Heartstyles terms, an intention can create an impression and then have an impact.  And even if the intention is Above the Line, the impression and impact on others is likely to be perceived as Below the Line. Curious to learn more? Go to

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