I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a simple yet revolutionary concept. It is one that has changed my life and allowed me to view people and situations through an entirely different, more positive, lens. It is called, “Assume the Best Intentions.”
This mantra was introduced to me when I joined the Coaching Services department here at Blanchard. It is one of our team norms and actually reads like this, “We give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best intentions.” Simple? Yes. Revolutionary? If you don’t already approach your daily interactions with this in mind, then yes.
Like many of you, I was taught a different saying about what happens when you “assume.” I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about. Therefore, I rarely assumed anything. But, when I was introduced to this team norm, I was intrigued by this new idea and decided I’d buy in to it. I’m so thankful that I did because it has greatly improved my mental approach when encountered with challenging interactions and situations.
Now, when I get THOSE e-mails, I no longer immediately jump to the conclusion that the sender has it in for me or is trying to make my life difficult. I admit I used to go there and admit it, you sometimes do too. When I’m faced with one of these moments, I take a deep breath and briefly attempt to understand where the other person is coming from. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have the best intentions. In most cases, they actually are coming from a good place and, surprisingly, really don’t have it out for you and aren’t trying to make your life difficult. I know, hard to believe but trust me on this one.
Keep in mind that in most cases the person that you are dealing with is trying to do what they believe is best given the knowledge that they have on the issue in question. Here’s the kicker…in most of those cases, that person’s knowledge is either limited or different than your own. That’s not a bad thing. However, it does require you to be a bit more patient and understanding.
Adopt this as one of your norms. When you give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they have the best intentions, you will be rewarded with a healthier mental outlook and more positive and productive interactions.