Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.

I was reading through the three Toolbox Talks attached to this month’s theme of Respectiful Workplaces, and I was struck by this piece, looking at the difference between Impact and Intent: 

Someone’s intent is what they think or feel during an action or  conversation. It’s usually the reason or motivation behind the situation. Someone might explain their intent by saying, “Well, I said it that way because…”

Impact refers to how that action or conversation makes the other person feel. They might bring up the issue of the impact by saying, “It seemed like you were…”

It can be common for someone at work to offend another person without meaning to…

No matter what, it is the impact, not the intent, that is most important at the end of the day.

This is really the pivot point in mental health, isn’t it? The intent of how we treat one another isn’t as important as the impact it has on the other person. We can be flip or joking or razzing good-naturedly, but if it hurts someone else, it’s serious – no matter our intent.

The lesson here is to stop and think for a quick second – will this quip hurt anyone? Am I being funny, or mean? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say – what’s the impact of my words on the people around me?

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 50 companies, and thousands of construction professionals, better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see icba.ca/wellness.