What Does It Mean To Be Intentional With People?

Socialization comes naturally to most of us. After all, humans are hardwired to want to chat with others. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that most of your chats with others occur almost automatically. You reply, look at the other person or past them based on your instincts, and essentially run on autopilot. While this is fine for many everyday conversations, it’s not the best if you want to master your social environment. Ever wondered why some people seem naturally more charismatic or interesting to talk to? It’s probably due to intentionality — in other words, those charismatic people are intentional with those they talk to and interact with. But what does it mean to be intentional with people?

Today, let’s crack the secret of interpersonal charisma and break down what it means to be intentional with people in one-on-one conversations and elsewhere.

What Does Intentionality Mean?

Put simply, intentionality means doing something with purpose, clarity, and consistency. Imagine a scenario where you’re hungry and wander to the kitchen to get something to eat. On autopilot, you might go for an extra doughnut or a bag of chips to satisfy your hunger.

But if you eat with intentionality, you might instead think of something healthy to satisfy your craving. Then you’ll make that healthy snack and be better off as a result.

The same principle can apply to all social situations you may find yourself in. You can be intentional with people when you:

  • Talk to them one-on-one
  • Have dealings with individuals, such as when collaborating at work
  • Talk about people to others
  • Foster relationships with others
  • Talk in groups

When you act intentionally with people, you treat them as individuals, mean everything that comes out of your mouth, and overall come across as more focused and authentic. People love this! No one likes to feel as though they’re talking to someone on autopilot.

For instance, imagine that you meet a new coworker for the first time. If you act intentionally with them, you have an engaging one-on-one conversation, you ask them insightful questions about their thoughts or past, and you pay attention throughout the discussion. 

By the end, you’ve made a new workplace friend, and they walk away thinking highly of you! 

If done properly, being intentional with people can:

  • Make you more popular in the workplace
  • Help you foster friendships more easily
  • Make your significant other appreciate you more
  • And result in further benefits elsewhere

How Can I Be Intentional With Others?

Now that you know what intentionality is, let’s break down how you can be intentional with others in your everyday dealings and conversations.

Make Eye Contact

Firstly, you should always make eye contact when speaking to another person. Most people are used to eye contact; we’re somewhat hardwired for this behavior, as it indicates trust, seriousness, and attention.

On top of that, maintaining eye contact helps you stay involved in a conversation, even if the topic isn’t particularly interesting to you personally. Eye contact makes you seem attentive, engaged, and earnest when you reply or contribute to a discussion.

Just don’t forget to blink!

Give Them Your Full Attention

Related to the above tip, give your conversational partner your full attention. You can extend this principle to group settings as well. For instance, if everyone in the group is taking turns to speak, give the current speaker your full attention rather than staring out the window or reading your phone when your least favorite person has the proverbial mic.

Giving individuals your full attention means:

  • You’ll really absorb what they have to say
  • You won’t forget their ideas or contributions in the future
  • They’ll notice that you paid attention to them and will be inspired to do the same to you

By giving individuals your full attention in conversations or group discussions, you begin a cycle of social reciprocity. In essence, being kind and attentive to others makes them more likely to be kind and attentive to you.

This creates a positive feedback loop that results in better conversation and workplace collaboration all around. What’s not to like?

Think of Others Before You Act

In a broader sense, being intentional with others means thinking of them before you speak or act. Remember, the pillar of intentionality is performing every action with full intent and clarity. You don’t let yourself run on autopilot or say something you don’t mean.

To maximize intentionality’s benefits, think of others and how they might respond to your action or statement. This can provide numerous benefits in the workplace, in your personal relationships, and even in your day-to-day life.

Being intentional with people in this way could solve a lot of minor problems, too. For example, say that you’re grumpy because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before and you hear a barista calling your name incorrectly when you order coffee. While you might be tempted to snap back, you could instead act with intention, calm down, and politely correct them or simply ignore the mistake.

Stay Mindful as You Speak and Act

You should also remain mindful of how your actions and words affect others no matter where you are. To be intentional with people, be mindful when you:

  • Make a request of others
  • Accept or refuse requests from people
  • Perform an action that could affect other people

Mindfulness essentially means keeping your attention grounded in the moment. Don’t allow your mind to fixate on other things or to ruminate on the past/worry about the future.

Instead, refocus your attention on what you are doing, who you are talking to, or what your objectives are. This is a particularly important skill for business leaders or managers.

Spend Time with People You Want to Spend Time With

Another broad way you can be intentional with people means not wasting your time or spending time with people you don’t want to. It’s fine to be polite at social events, but you should never accept invitations you don’t desire or lead people on in social situations.

It’s wrong, for instance, to accept a date with someone you just aren’t attracted to. Instead, it’s better to be intentional with a prospective suitor by explaining that you aren’t interested (politely, of course!), then enjoy your time elsewhere.

Being intentional with people means being honest, upfront, and authentic and all of your dealings, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable. Luckily, practicing this means you’ll become more accustomed to intentionality over time. Plus, you’ll gain a reputation for being straightforward and trustworthy; this can benefit you professionally and personally in more ways than one.

Avoid Lying or Avoiding the Truth

More than anything else, being intentional with people means avoiding lies or even small fibs. Lying is almost never a good thing, and all it does is make you seem less authentic and legitimate.

Be honest as much as you can. Even if you have to deliver bad news or tell someone something they don’t want to hear, being honest will pay off in the long run. It proves that you are a trustworthy individual, helps people trust your judgment, and makes them feel as though they can come to you for honest advice.

Plus, by stating the truth and avoiding unnecessary lies, you treat individuals as rational actors. Honesty is, in many ways, a form of personal respect you can extend to everyone you know in your life.

Intentionality Fuels Meaningful Relationships

At the end of the day, being intentional with people means taking responsibility for your actions and words. It’s a positive overall change to make to your life if you aren’t already practicing it. More importantly, it’ll result in major benefits for your personal and professional life over the years to come by fostering your social wellness.

1AND1 Life can help you continue to grow and learn with resources for social, spiritual, mental, and physical wellness. If you’re looking for more guidance when it comes to your social life, check our article on improving social health.

Why wait? Reach your potential like never before with 1AND1 Life today.


Why meeting another’s gaze is so powerful | BBC Future

Social Communication- Making Connections | SeattleChildrens.org

Mindfulness Definition | What Is Mindfulness | University of Berkeley