Connect With Intention

Listen instead on The Extraordinary Life Podcast

Connecting with others is one of the ten human drives that Brendon Burchard talks about in his book, The Charge, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I did a small group coaching session about it last month, and many of the women said they wanted to deepen their connection to their partners. When you learn to connect with intention your relationships with your loved ones will improve, but so will all of the other connections in your life. It just takes a little positivity. 

Positive Projection

People are more kind, hard-working, and well-intentioned than we give them credit for, and they’ll live up to high expectations if given the chance. Studies have confirmed that if you project positive traits on others, they’ll rise to the occasion. If you tell your child how creative they are and give them the opportunity to show that, watch what they come up with. You can use this with your spouse, kids, family members, coworkers, or anyone. 

Have you ever been waiting in a long lineup at the store, and when you finally get to the cashier, they greet you with “thank you for your patience!” That’s positive projection at work. They are giving you the chance to show your patience, and it works most of the time. 

Positive Intent

I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead, and one part really resonated with me. It’s similar to what I coach on in my Charge sessions, and it’s about assuming the positive intent of others. She says that: 

The foundational skill of assuming the best in people is setting and maintaining boundaries, and the fundamental belief underpinning the assumption of positive intent is that people are doing the best that they can

Reading that sentence stopped me in my tracks, because I’d never linked boundary setting with positive intent. She goes on to say that: 

The people who are the most generous in their assumptions of others have the clearest boundaries. It turns out that we assume the worst about people's intentions when they're not respectful of our boundaries. It is easy to believe that they're trying to disappoint us on purpose. However, we can be very compassionate toward people who acknowledge and respect what's okay and what's not.

What I love about this is that boundaries put us in the driver’s seat. It’s up to us to communicate our boundaries so others can respect them. This fits right in with what I’m working on in my life at the moment, which is taking responsibility for my results. And if I want better connections in my life, then I need to take responsibility for that. 

How I’m Using Positive Intent

At the height of the pandemic, I was working hard on assuming the best in my husband and children. It remarkably improved my relationships with all of them for the better, but lately I haven’t been as intentional and it shows. Here is the perfect example, and how I can use positive intent to shift the dynamic. 

As I write this, I have a lot to do in the next twenty-four hours. I need to record a podcast, give a talk at the Gather Community Winter Celebration, and my father-in-law is coming tomorrow for an extended visit. Since my office is also the guest room, I need to move out and get it ready. I’m excited to see my father-in-law for the first time in over two years, but we’ve had a lot to do. The house had to be cleaned, holiday decor put up, and my husband is busy hanging the art and photos that were taken down when I repainted the house. 

Setting Boundaries

You can imagine the heightened emotions with so much going on, so I’ve been trying to go in with good intentions. I’ve had to start over again many times when I’ve blown it, but I’m still practicing. So today, I asked myself a question from Brené Brown’s book: “What boundaries need to be in place for me to be in my integrity and generous with my assumptions about the intentions of others?”

I’d never thought about boundaries like this before, and I came up with this one: “I would like it if you would ask me for input before you put artwork or photographs up on the wall, and I would hope that we would both be in agreement for that to happen, and I should also do the same if I want to put something up”. 

Clearly, there have been some clashes between my husband and I about where he was hanging things. If I decide the ball is in my court to figure out how to communicate and maintain that boundary, it gives me some power in the situation. 

Believe in Others

Boundaries are one part of positive intent, and the second is to “rely on the core belief that people are doing the best they can with what they've got, versus that people are lazy and disengaged and maybe even trying to piss us off on purpose.”

Hm. Now that changes things. If you’re frustrated with someone (even yourself), and can think about how they are doing the best they can, it’s more relaxing for your nervous system and creates better feelings. 

For example, when I walk out of this room I can decide how I’ll see my husband. I know that he’s doing the best he can to get ready for his dad to come. Can I lighten up a little if I don't like where he’s hung everything? He is the one that’s doing it, not me. Can I hold onto the excitement at seeing my father-in-law tomorrow? Can I thank my husband for all the cleaning and decluttering he’s doing, and give him a hug instead of asking “why are you hanging that there?” And finally, if I do find myself in reactive mode, can I take a deep breath and try again? After all, I’m doing the best I can, too. 

It really does come back to me. I can choose to draw the line in the sand with my “picture boundary”, or assume he is doing the best he can. I think I’ll choose the latter, and if the pictures are still bugging me when his dad leaves, I’ll deal with it then. 

Give the Energy You Want to Feel

If you can look at the people around you wherever you are and hold in your heart that they are doing the best they can, it will change your reaction to them. If you’ve been feeling reactive lately, perhaps you can take some time to think and journal about who could use some positive energy from you. 

Read more about connecting to others using Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates and get my new Good Morning, Good Night Ritual Guide.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Get the Guide

50% Complete

Learn the Life-Changing Power of Loving Yourself

What if you approached self care as a gift, because you know you deserve the very best? 

Sign-Up Below to Receive the You, 2.0 Guide and receive my weekly news and updates.