When in Doubt, Assume Positive Intent

When in Doubt, Assume Constructive Intent


If there’s one factor I discovered in a quarter-century of administration, it is that there are ample grey areas in human conduct and that resolving worker disputes might not at all times have clear right-or-wrong options.

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It might typically be onerous for a supervisor to know precisely the place the reality lies.

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When two folks have totally different variations of the identical occasion, it may be onerous to know whom to imagine. One such circumstance at all times comes again to me. It occurred a few years in the past, and it is a measure of the forgettable nature of the battle that I not even recall what the dispute was about, however I undoubtedly recall the decision. Two proficient younger executives had vastly totally different accounts of the identical occasion; it was a “he stated/she stated” second, although in a enterprise not sexual context. Neither would budge from their positions, and it appeared possible we might by no means get to the reality of the matter.

The trail ahead

At this level, the supervisor of one of many people (I used to be managing the opposite) checked out me after an unsatisfactory assembly and stated, “Properly, this is one thing I discovered from a wonderful supervisor I as soon as labored for. He used to say, ‘When unsure, assume optimistic intent.'”

And similar to that, we had a path ahead. I had nice respect for my administration counterpart’s enterprise acumen and judgment, and I instantly felt this was a pleasant workable perception. She and I agreed we’d by no means know the precise information of the matter; fairly possible there have been parts of reality in each of our staff’ tales. We agreed to carefully monitor their actions and relationship going ahead… and determined to present them each the advantage of the doubt and shut the chapter.

So we did, with the consequence being that we had been capable of put the battle behind us and transfer constructively ahead. In actual fact, their interpersonal issues did not recur. The wheels of enterprise saved turning; because the saying goes, all of us lived to struggle one other day.

Past enterprise

Through the years, this normal method has proved helpful for me not simply in a managerial setting, however in counseling folks about variations in all types of relationships. Conditions simply come up in fact in on a regular basis dwelling the place two folks view the identical occasion in another way and the reality is on no account apparent. Grey areas abound, reminiscence is imperfect, all of us see issues by the lens of our personal expertise. In such cases, if you cannot satisfactorily come to a gathering of the minds about what actually transpired, assuming optimistic intent and agreeing to maneuver on could be a constructive resolution.

Is it an ideal end result? No, however in some cases, it may be a easy, cheap, workable one. A optimistic approach ahead when different methods do not feel in any respect clear.


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