Monday, November 14th, 2016
The core of the idea is that human beings are not inherently malicious, conniving creatures and that most of our ideas and actions are well-intentioned. Even many of the ones that seem spiteful and rude are often driven by positively-fueled emotions like concern, compassion, and curiosity.
When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, “Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing”.
To me, “assume positive intent” means “try to examine sentiments and actions from multiple perspectives before allowing yourself to feel hurt or offended.”
When we assume positive intent, we have greater control over our emotional response, and we retain the power to control what we can control – ourselves.
Assuming positive intent in the workplace means consciously choosing to assume that our co-workers are operating to the best of their ability, and are acting with the best interest of the company and their colleagues in mind. It means that what feels like a very real threat may be someone actually trying to help us grow and be more successful – to believe that the person speaking has no hidden agenda. Thinking the best of a co-workers’ intentions is a strategy that works.
Summing-up: Assume positive intent, until proven otherwise. This is the basis for building a culture of trust. Whenever you hear incriminatory information, ask yourself, “Why am I assuming the worst of this person or situation?” Seek out other reasonable explanations for why people acted the way they did. Jumping to conclusions kills trust.