Assume Positive Intent
I read this quote the other day, and unlike every other headline and soundbite and clip I consume online every day, this one’s stuck with me.
Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or a problem becomes very different. (view it here)
I won’t get into the details, but one of the very few hiccups I’ve encountered in this latest endeavor is what I’ll call a breakdown in communication. Maybe more of a difference of communication styles. A clash of personalities? No, it’s not that drastic. But it’s something that I’ve been struggling with, because I want to be better than my natural response to a situation like this tends to be.
Every instinct in my stubborn frame is to fight through the misunderstanding. Come to verbal blows over the differences of opinion. Hash it out, have our say and move on.
But I realize, as a grown up person, this is not exactly a smart approach in circumstances where you are, for all intents and purposes, the new girl and would, you know, like people to like you. So I’d been racking my brain for a solution, for some tool to use, some device to keep myself from being so quick to boil in these ultimately harmless situation.
Which is when I discovered the quote above, words I’m using to change my perspective. I have long been of the opinion that, as much as we’d like to blame the world around us for so much, we are in control of quite a lot. We have choices – we can’t manage what someone else will say or do, but we can decide how we choose to respond, how we choose to communicate going forward, knowing what we now know about that person.
Those three simple words: assume positive intent. I have had them with me for 24 hours and they have already changed my circumstances for the better. They have allowed me to release the frustration, the confusion, the anger I’d let build up in sticky situations. I can completely unburden myself of my own defensive armor simply by assuming positive intent on the other person’s behalf.
Because really, what harm does it do to, without any prejudice or expectation, give one the benefit of the doubt? They never even have to know you’re doing it. All they’ll be privy to, I can say from experience, is the change in your demeanor, the newfound lightness of your interactions.
I can only control me. I can respond better. I can change the situation by changing my energy. Positive intent.