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Aug 18

5 Logical Reasons Why You Should Always Assume Positive Intent

assume positive intent

Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

“Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.”
― Brenna Yovanoff, The Replacement

Great leaders are hard to find.  They’re a rare breed which comes only once in a few years.  Luckily for me, I was able to work with a couple of them.

I consider someone a good leader if they deliver (or over-deliver) what’s expected of them and if they bring out the best in the people who work for them.  I love to be inspired as I’m sure most of you are too.

One such leader I’ve worked for taught me the value of assuming positive intent.

I’m sure you can all relate by the time I finished telling you the story.

We had a conference call one time and our manager was a bit pissed and was not his usual calm and collected self.  He wasn’t usually as angry as he was on that day but our team was under performing and it was almost certain that he will take the brunt of management’s displeasure.

He conducted the entire meeting as if he was talking to people with hearing difficulties and being the team leader, I wasn’t spared from the fireballs he was throwing at everyone.

He berated me for a directive that I haven’t implemented and he really came down hard on me.  Naturally, I felt bad.  And just like most of you who have encountered the kind of tongue-lashing I described, I was upset.

I wanted to get out of the room and get some fresh air after we ended the call but I immediately got a call from him less than five minutes after the meeting.

“Hey, I hope you’re not feeling bad because of how I talked to you earlier.  I’m not mad at you or anything but I was just trying to make a point.” He said in a calm and friendly voice.

“I thought you were gonna fire me earlier.  You almost ate me alive.” I told him jokingly.

“No, you’re doing great.  I just wanted everyone to take this with a sense of urgency.  Nothing personal.” he said.

If he didn’t explain the situation, I would have already come up with my own conclusion about him.  I didn’t see his true intentions because he masked it under the guise of an angry boss.

It’s funny to think that in life, most of the time, we choose to assume that people have bad intentions towards us especially those who if they’re actions seems to indicate it.

Instead of thinking negatively, why don’t we assume positive intent instead?

Here are 5 reasons why we should:

 

1. Always give the benefit of the doubt

There may be people who are out to ruin you but there are also some who are after your best interest. Assess the situation carefully and avoid jumping into conclusions without solid proof.  There are still good people out there who are out to make other people’s lives better.

 

2. Develop a thick skin

Sometimes we can be overly sensitive that we get offended with words that are not actually directed towards us or with constructive criticism.

Be open to both positive and negative feedback but don’t feel bad if you receive the latter.  It depends on the person giving the criticism.  There are those who give you honest feedback as a point of improvement and there are those who give their opinions just to annoy and humiliate you.  In both cases, you don’t have to be defensive.

Analyze the validity of the criticism and work on improving yourself based on that opinion.

 

3. Everything is not about you

Our egos can make us somewhat delusional sometimes that we seem to think that everyone is out to get us and that people can’t wait to take a shot at us.

I especially see this in social media when people assume that they are the subject of another person’s “EMO” comments on Facebook or Twitter.

There’s no reason for you to think that people are out to ridicule you.  People comment on social media all the time and more often than not, they do it for the simple reason of just wanting to have fun and there you are, getting all emotional because of a meaningless tweet.

Chill out!

 

4. There are still good people out there

Just like what I said earlier in point number one, believe it or not, there are still good people out there who actually has the purest of intentions.

You don’t have to fear that this girl you sat next to is befriending you because she wanted to use you.  You don’t have to worry that a former foe took the first step to reconciliation by asking for forgiveness.  You don’t have to be paranoid that your colleague has helped you out without asking for anything in return.

Always assume positive intent.

 

5. People are different from one another

You may have had a traumatic experience with a friend who betrayed your trust or a business partner who swindled you for a ton of cash but that doesn’t mean that everyone you will meet will turn out to be like them.

People deserve a chance to show what they got to offer and you deserve the chance to have meaningful relationships so start removing your filters and give yourself the chance to be happy.

 

Over to You

Do you always assume positive intent when people do things for you?  Do you give everyone the benefit of the doubt?

I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or share your stories below.  Let’s talk and share our experiences so that they can help others who are in the same situation.

 

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Noel Rosos

About Noel Rosos

Noel is a husband, father, author, performance coach and self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST who helps business owners and struggling individuals convert their failures into opportunities through inspiring blog posts, life-changing books and exceptional one-on-one coaching sessions

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  1. Alex Ford

    Awesome share Noel! In the end it’s all about the perspective we choose. By looking for the positive intent in others, it benefits us! It’s pointless looking for negative intent in someone else because they only person who’s going to suffer is the person perceiving.

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Thanks Alex! I don’t know what it is but it seems for most of us (that includes me), the negative side always ends up to be the default value. Even when we are waiting for results on a course of action, we all tend to think it will fail instead of succeeding. Even with the things that happen to us. We seem to focus on everything wrong that happened instead of being happy with the positive ones.

  2. Kym M Kennedy

    I love the perspective you have shared, it so easy to get off track – assume positive intent is a lovely way to live.

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Yes Kym, always better to lead a life of positivity and peace of mind. Glad you liked it and thanks for taking the time to read!

  3. Darren

    Thanks Noel, really interesting read :)

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Glad you liked it Darren! Thanks for reading!

  4. Isaac

    Nice article mate, this idea of assuming positive intent will give you many stress free nights. I think we all at some stage have acted like the world revolves around us, but in reality there are 7 billion of us, not everyone is out to get us. Good one Noel!

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Thanks Isaac! Our egos can really grow big at times.

  5. Carol Makowski

    People are different and it is not always about us. What a great lesson in that story Noel. Not so sure I agree with your bosses tactics, but as you say — give the benefit of the doubt. interesting post — thanks.

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Thanks Carol! Yes, always give the benefit of the doubt even if sometimes, you find the intent questionable because we’ll never know if we don’t give people a chance.

  6. Pamina Mullins

    More good stuff Noel, and some very insightful comments! I had to smile at yours Isaac “in reality there are 7 billion of us, not everyone is out to get us.” Puts it into perspective very well.

    Having knee jerk reactions based on a generalization of our experiences is silly when put in this context. That’s how prejudices are born.

    Yes, not everyone’s intentions will be honorable, but who knows what’s going on in that person’s life right now, that’s causing them to say and act the way they are….

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  8. Sheena

    great points you shared, being positive is always good

  9. Noel Rosos
    Noel Rosos

    Thank you! Much appreciated!

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