Core Principles Explained: Principle #2 

Core Principle #2: Intentions ≠ Impact

Think about an awkward conversation that you have had recently – especially one where you thought you were saying something kind or generous, and it came out all wrong. How many times in these moments do you find yourself saying, “I didn’t mean it like that.” What does it feel like when you realize it sounded better in your head, especially after you’ve already said it? Most of us have probably experienced this at some point or we have been on the receiving end of similar sentiments. Those moments are a few examples of why Core Principle #2: Intentions Impact is so important. 

We at US² believe that most people who are entering difficult conversations around Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are approaching those topics with the best of intentions. However, when that intention falls short and causes harm, that harm becomes the receiver’s reality. In those moments where we hurt someone else with our words, even when it is accidental, it is essential that we take ownership for the impact that we caused. 

There are many ways that we can hold ourselves accountable for the impact of our words: 

  • Invite feedback and disagreement when having difficult conversations. 
  • Apologize with sincerity for any harm that may have been caused. 
  • Thank the person who was harmed for being willing to question or correct you. 
  • Continue the conversation by becoming more informed about the issue that was raised and being willing to talk to others about what you’ve learned. 

We will make mistakes doing JEDI work. We have implicit biases that are hiding just under the surface of our thoughts that make it into our experiences and conversations every day. It’s what we do about navigating through those implicit biases that creates the final impact of an interaction. Are we comfortable acknowledging and accepting when we caused harm? Can we put our own fragility (the feeling of defensiveness we may experience when we are corrected on our words or actions) aside and hear the person who has been harmed? Can we learn from our mistakes and not make them again? 

This month we are talking about Ageism. To reflect on this core principle for the month, journal or discuss with coworkers or family members a time that you may have used age as an excuse or criticism. Why did age seem to matter in that moment? Did it truly make a difference in the situation? What was your intention and what was the impact received? Was there anything you would have, or could have, done differently? 

Stay tuned for more Core Principles reflection blogs monthly!