Author Profile Picture

Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

You be the Judge: Behaviour v Intentions?


How many of you have promised yourself you will make a change to your life? Did you promise to go on a diet? Did the gym membership prove rather expensive for the 3 times you went? Did setting that alarm 45 minutes early not feel quite such a good idea at 5:55am?

Maybe you planned to always use a To Do list? Maybe you promised to keep quiet in meetings and listen more? Maybe you even promised yourself that you will spend 90 minutes a week undertaking meaningful CPD?

Whatever the promises we make to ourselves, there is a rather good chance that we struggle to keep the vast majority of them. Some good intentions last hours, some days, some even a few weeks. But, if we are really honest, it is a special set of circumstances that mean we build them into our lives forever. 

Does that mean we are bad people? Does it mean we should berate ourselves forever more? Does it mean we should resign from our jobs at the first sign of failure?

Of course it doesn't; it just means that we are human. Despite trying our best (or a rough approximation of it), we don't always succeed. As long as we hit the spot often enough, most of us are able to reassure ourselves that muddling along is good enough.

Yet do we extend that same courtesy to the people we interact with? Do we only consider the behaviour/outcomes we see? Or do we take a step back and ask ourselves what their intentions were?

How often do we forgive ourselves because we know we want to do right, but get mad as hell with others because, as all the world can see, they right royally stuffed up?

How often do we moan with (righteous) indignation about how the failings of others prevented us from shining? How often so we use their mistakes to forgive our own ones?

The reality is that pretty much every one of us will judge ourselves on our intentions (after all we know with absolute clarity why we did something) but we focus on the behaviours we see in others.

It is human nature; it is self preservation. But next time you are in a training room, it is worth reminding ourselves that this is what will be happening inside the minds of our learners - in fact there is a good chance a few of them will be hoping that you prove to them that you aren't a trainer to be trusted to excuse them from making a change.

Does that mean we should give up now? Should we go back to 'doing' rather than training because it is destined to fail?

Of course not, but it is worth reminding ourselves every day that only a change of heart will bring about a change of mind about what is right.

Our job in the training room is to angle the mirror slightly. We need to ask our learners to look, to consider, to really think. We need them to observe the view from a slightly different perspective. We need to acknowledge their good intentions but remind them that it is their actions others will see. We also need to try to give them the capacity to see what they can do to make all the difference in the world regardless of the behaviour of others. After all our own actions are the only thing we have true control over.

Then remind them of these wise words from a certain Ms Winfrey: 

"Doing the best at this moment, puts you in the best place for the next moment"

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!