Lessons learned Friday:
As a young Lieutenant in the Marines, I spent some time with the Military Police. There was a night, in the vehicle search lanes at Camp Pendleton, when my words did not match my intentions. I had a civilian, who's car was being searched, ask why our uniforms were different, as they pointed to one of my Marines. At that time, the Marine Corps was transitioning to the digital camouflage you see today, which that Marine was wearing that night. What I thought the civilian was asking was why his belt was different (his was green and the some if us had black). My answer was: "Oh, he is just a FAP" (short for Fleet Assistance Program). I used the word JUST. My intention was to communicate why he wore a different belt. My mouth communicated that there was a level if insignificance in that Marine's role in my platoon. Looking back with wiser eyes, I know I made that Marine feel that way. Though that was not what my intention was, nor what I thought I was try to communicate, the result was the result. For all I know, he may have brushed it off as the dumb lieutenant blabbing without thinking. Marines are smart enough to know that, but it still does not change the mistake, and for that matter the lesson I learned.
The lesson is: Before you communicate, make sure your intentions and your words are in harmony. Your intentions are not more important than the perception those receiving your communication form. The words we use are more important than the intentions we desire to communicate. "I had good intentions" is not a good enough excuse. As a leader, you must be exceptionally aware of how you communicate your intentions. The responsibility is on you, not your people.
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