Feelings, Facts, Intentions

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When we judge ourselves, our tendency is to judge ourselves based on our intentions, but to judge others on their actions and results.  Feelings, Facts, Intentions is a simple conversation framework for approaching feedback and conflict situations.  The framework moves from our own feelings, to objective facts, and then to the other’s intentions.   The framework allows us overcome our natural prejudices and move towards empathy.

  1. Feelings.  This stage is one of inviting empathy.   Although feelings are personal and subjective, they are relative facts.  ‘When you did that, I felt angry’ is a statement of a fact.  It is a fact that I felt angry.   Sometimes this is referred to as ‘speaking our truth’.  By speaking our truth, we define the scope of the issue in terms that matter most to us: our emotions.
  2. Facts.  Once the issue has been defined, the next stage is to de-personalize the conversation, and remove ego.  Exploring the known and unknown facts from different perspectives reveals ‘the whole elephant’.  Perception bias, cognitive bias, and inference are all ways in which how we perceive the truth is filtered.  Stripping back and exposing these filters to expose the objective truth is an important step towards reaching common understanding.
  3. Intentions.  When we focus on intentions we move beyond the actual outcomes, as unfortunate as they were.   By considering the situation from the perspective of the other person, we begin to judge them as we would judge ourselves: through their intentions.  By doing this we achieve empathy.

Paul Osborn

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