When we don’t know the motives or intentions of others, our brains tend to create negative stories. It takes work to assume positive intent, but research shows it can be helpful to us both personally and socially.
When faced with a situation where we are unsure of intent, get curious, pause, and create a story of positive intent.
Use phrases like “I wonder” or “it could be” as a start.
This may not work for every situation but overall, if we work on changing the stories we tell ourselves to one with positive intent, the more likely we will end up with positive outcomes.
When we assume that people are doing the best they can with what they have – in this moment – it can reduce our stress, boost collaboration and creativity, and build relationships. Otherwise known as professional courtesy or the benefit of the doubt, assuming positive intent takes practice and is worth the effort.
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