2 min read

Assume positive intent

We can all do better with assuming positive intent in social interactions with people.
Assume positive intent

This is something I have heard Mark Horstman say quite a lot over the years while listening to the Manger-Tools set of podcasts. It’s a simple set of three words yet a complex act to put in play consistently.

The last few months have seen many cities, countries, sites and amenities open back up for business. I’ve been fortunate to travel to multiple countries over the last few months and see how behaviours have changed. For example, how you interact with others such as shaking hands, wearing (or not wearing) masks or paying for purchases or services etc.

Recently I’ve noticed as the lack of assuming positive intent. It was just this morning that I saw someone walk quite closely behind a car. While behind it the driver slowly backed up because he was sticking out onto the road. The pedestrian over reacted and yelled at the driver for purposely hitting him. This all happened in the space of ten seconds yet reminded me how much we have lost in terms of social interactions.

This isn’t the only example. I see examples a lot on the tube. Today, I had someone run past me and take me out because he wanted to get on the train before the doors closed. Interestingly enough only a few seconds later I walked on the same train as the doors didn’t close. This is the London Underground where you have a train turn up every 2 - 3 minutes during peak hour. The important question is my reaction - I went about my day and ignored what happened. What possible benefit would I have gained by telling him off.

Years ago I was in a relationship that ended up in a disaster. I was younger back then, naive as I thought I knew all there was to relationships. Looking back now I realise that one of the biggest factors that we both could have done better with is assuming positive intent. It is something that my wife and I today list as one of most important factors of our relationship. For example, she didn’t mean to do x to upset me etc.

We all need to be working this muscle a little harder. In any situation you encounter have a think about the aspect of positive intent. Did the other party do this to anger you? Probably not. Pay it forward as well as we all can try and get on a little better.