This post has been changed since it first went up. I have moved the last three bullets on sentinels to a new post that can be found here.

  • In many cases, listeners decide (usually vaguely) what a speaker’s intention for speaking was only after they have finished speaking. If you pay close attention to yourself, you may find that as a speaker you also do this to yourself. You don’t necessarily have a clear sense of your intention for speaking until after you have spoken.
  • Once you have decided what your own intention as a speaker was, you should be able to see that your “intention” can often be decided by the choice of a single word, which pretty much just popped out of your mouth.
  • Clearly, figuring out your partner’s intention will be even more problematic. This is one of the reasons we need FIML practice. If we are not always sure what our own intentions are, how can we be sure at all of our partner’s?
  • Have you ever noticed that you might say something and your partner reacts in a way that is not quite what you meant but before you know it you are defending yourself for having fully intended to say just that?
  • I suppose you could call this phenomenon “retrospective intention” or even “retrospective attention”. When we speak, we spend a good part of the time in the past, assessing fleeting words and expressions that are almost always impossible to catch after more than a few seconds.
  • Our psychological states of the moment are filled with vague information of the types described above. The same is true for our partner. With FIML both partners can become much clearer about that sort of information. It’s a great relief to get more clarity in this area.

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