Assume Positive Intent – FOW #24

Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest. Set aside your own judgments or preconceived notions, and give people the benefit of the doubt. Look for the positive intent in their actions and communications.

Working with a client today it was pretty clear that this fundamental was going to be a challenge for her with regard to a particular person within her organization.

Assuming positive intent is easy when it’s with someone you haven’t had much interaction with or who hasn’t had a chance to negatively impact you in any way.

It’s much tougher to follow this behavioral rule when you do have preconceived notions – and for a really good reason!

Then what do you do?


The last thing you want to do is pretend that this person has not impacted you.

You can, however, look for what their intention might be.

A few blogs ago,  I mentioned that we are judged by our behavior and not by our intention.

Well, what if we flipped that around?

It would be like donning a new pair of shades and effectively seeing something, in this case, someone through a new lens.

What if we did have the ability to perceive another based on their intent instead of solely on their behavior?  

If so, we might be able to stay calm enough to share with them when they’ve had an impact on us.

People Do The Best They Can

Over the past 25 years of working with people I can say, that for the most part, people really are doing the best they can.

So when we see life and people through a lens of goodness, fairness, and honesty we might become the recipients of more of those qualities for ourselves.

For some time now, I have taken on the belief that we get what we ask for…and in this case, I’d say:


we get what we are looking for


Try it on.  What do you have to lose….well, other than your judgments and preconceived notions?

Better yet, you may want to ask yourself, “what might I have to gain?


All my best,