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Assume Positive Intent and Grow

Assume Positive Intent and GrowUpdated on September 13, 2020 | Published on April 10, 2020

Assume Positive Intent and Grow

Do you want to expand your growth in life? For this, make a thumb rule – ‘Assume positive intent‘ in all situations. All of us come across conflicts. It is inevitable. Especially in today’s chaotic life. The world is very competitive. This condenses us to doubt others.

Take some instances. Someone finds a fault in your idea. Or, a person reproves your work. At this point, what is your stand? How do you react? Do you easily get defensive in your actions? Aggressive? Or, upset?

Assume positive intent. This helps you tackle the situation better. Try to find good in these situations. It widens your mind. Thus, you draw a win-win a point.

A positive mind finds opportunity in everything. A negative mind finds fault in everything.

— Buddha

Take the examples below. You will understand the concept better.

What is Assume Positive Intent?

The term consists of three words.

Assume means ‘to take up’. Or, ‘to suppose without proof’.

Positive refers to ‘having a good effect’.

Intent means ‘the state of mind’.

Concept of Assume Positive Intent

Thus, assuming positive intent is a positive practice.

It means you consciously choose to assume that a person is operating at the best of their motives.

Let’s take an example.

Your boss reproves your project idea. You worked so hard upon it. So, you got upset.

You can take it in a negative way. Think that he/ she doesn’t appreciate your talent.

Or else, you can think positive. You may talk about it. This will give you a positive insight. Improve your project. This will make your boss trust you even more.

Assume Positive Intent and Grow
Assume Positive Intent and Grow

‘Assume Positive Intent’ parts

So, assuming positive intent involves:

  • Positives stand in a negative situation.
  • Make a conscious decision.
  • You choose to assume their intent.
  • Consider it positive.
  • You think it in your favor.
  • Give a benefit of doubt to others.

Real-life examples of Assume Positive Intent

We all come across such situations daily. The common examples of assuming positive intent are:

  • A friend is not responding to your call. It seems like he is ignoring you. You chose to think positively.

Later, you may find him unwell. Or, maybe his phone was in silent mode. So, your relationship is not damaged.

  • In your presentation, a colleague finds a fault. You don’t get huffy.

Instead, you thanked her. Also, you worked upon it. This improved your image.

  • Your worker forgot to bring an important file. You kept your calm. And didn’t waste time. Instead, tried to manage it.

Your worker will surely be grateful to you. He will respect you more.

  • You found your article published in a magazine. It is without your knowledge. You didn’t take a random move.

Instead, you contacted the publisher. The person apologized. You got to know something else. They were actually looking for you.

You got the concerning credit. Also, a better professional offer further.

Thus, you can find it in your daily life. Keep a positive attitude. This will make things better.

Power of Assuming Positive Intent

Be positive. Experts give it as the basic advice. 

Why is it essential?

Since we generally take things with a constrained mind. So, we don’t get situations as it is.

It is basic human nature.

This hampers our decision-making process. Also, our actions.

In ordinary situations, we face differences in thoughts. 

We make a mistake. Consider the other factors behind it. Thus, empathize with ourselves.

On the contrary, our perception changes for others. We lack this empathy in others’ faults.

Thus, we judge with double standards. We under-emphasize our faults. Over emphasize others’.  This is the root cause of conflicts.

Hence, try to assume positive intent. By this, you can bring a drastic change.

This makes you stronger psychologically. Your strengths are increased. You make better decisions. 

Thus, you can utilize the situation. Make it favorable. This is really needed in your professional life.


Take an instance.

You and your colleague are working on a presentation. Basically, you divide the works. 

It was the last day before the presentation. And you found that she has not completed her part.

You have two options.

First, negative. You get annoyed. Think of her as stupid. Or, ignorant. You feel cheated for your hard work. 

So, you just start directly blaming her. And won’t really listen to her point. 

So, you took a random step. Like, telling your senior about it. Without even talking to her.

You may find later that she did her work. But she was stuck at a point. She already informed it to the senior. And was about to discuss it with you. 

Your hyper behavior damages your relation. The presentation didn’t work.

Also, you seemed more defensive, random and impatient. Your senior can see it.

A lose-lose situation.

The second way is positive.

You assume positive. Instead, directly talk to her. You may find her really good in some parts. Helping her can solve the issue. 

So, she respects you more. Also, the senior likes your informed approach.

A win-win situation!

Assume Positive Intent vs Assume Negative Intent – An Analysis

ACTIONS– You are more confident.
– You appear friendly.
– Clarify it.
– Understand. Listen genuinely.
– Planned in your response.
– Take an informed move.
– You are defensive.
– You appear aggressive.
– Assume things.
– Listen to refute.
– Mostly, random in your response.
– Ignorant move.

So, when you assume negative intent, you :

  • Make things worse.
  • Damage your relationships.
  • Ruin your image.
  • Make it a complete lose-lose situation.

When you assume positive intent, you:

Hence, you can see what is good for you.

Rewards of Assuming Positive Intent

If you can stay positive in a negative situation, you win.

– Buddha

Try to assume positive intent. This will bring a positive difference. It adds so much to your life. Here are those:

Professional level Rewards of Assume Positive Intent

1.  Better teamwork – As a team, assume positive intent. This will enhance group cooperation. Thus, better work.

2.  Good leadership – Your people respect you more. They put their best for you.

3.  Informed decision – You know things in detail. So, can better manage it.

4.  Improve the situation – Assume positive intent. Thus, you find good even in a worse state.

5.  Practical actions – You take things with a calm mind. So, you work upon the basic core point. Thus, you draw the right conclusions. So, your actions are more practical.

6.  Have a better professional image – People trust in you more. Find you collaborative. So, you build a good image.

7.  Better opportunities – Good image leads to better scopes. People go to great lengths for those who trust in them.

Personal level Rewards of Assume Positive Intent

8.  Attractive personality – You get more confident. Appear friendlier. So, people prefer you.

9.  Good communications – You avoid damaging conversations.

10.  You are comfortable – So, you don’t get into embarrassing situations.

11.  Keeps you calm – Prevents conflicts. You don’t lose your temper easily.

12.  Better relations – Your relations with others improve. People like you more.

13.  Happy mind – It makes you happier. You feel content. Your life seems worthier.

So, assuming positive intent is rewarding. You just have to practice it. And grow yourself.

Assume Positive Intent at The Workplace

When you assume negative intent, you are angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent. You will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up. Because you are no longer almost random in your response.

–  Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico

Above, Indra Nooyi gave the most important leadership advice. Always, assume positive intent. Especially in a workplace situation. This boosts your professional growth.

Let’s discuss the roles of this practice in the workplace.

Roles in the workplace

Assuming positive intent plays a vital role in the workplace. Go through these:

  • It makes you a smart leader or employee. Your decisions are rational.
  • You can’t work efficiently as a team without it.
  • Conflicts waste a lot of resources for a company. The practice makes you avoid conflicts. It saves these resources.
  • The energy force of the company is well directed. They focus on goals.
  • It is a powerful move. You get a more professional image.
  • So, your approach to a person or problem changes. You can convert worst to best.
  • You listen. Speak straight. Thus, you are more effective.
  • Prevents random move. So, no damaging or embarrassing action. You take time. And make a suitable move.
  • You learn some valuable lessons. These add to your professional experience.
  • You can find real professional threats if any. So, don’t lose a good opportunity.
  • All in all, productivity dramatically increases. Be it as a single professional. Or, as a team.

How to Assume Positive Intent Effectively?

Be positive. Especially, when a negative situation arises. We always tend to doubt others. Psychologists call it fundamental attribution error.

You can change it. Counter it with a simple cognitive shift. That is, assume positive intent.

Follow these steps:

  • Step back. Breath deep.
  • Let up the initial rage. Calm down.
  • Take some time. Don’t take immediate action.
  • Decisions based on negative emotions scarcely work. Especially in business decisions.
  • Widen your mind. Be it for a person or problem.
  • Analyze the threat. Ask yourself.
  • Is it that serious issue? Does it directly threaten you? Has the person or organization done it before?
  • Understand the perspective of the situation. Get the things in detail.
  • Don’t make a preconception. Or, you may regret it later.
  • Give people the benefit of doubt. Mostly, this works better.
  • Have clear communication. This avoids misconceptions or confusion.
  • Listen to others. Don’t interrupt. Ask the right questions. Don’t scream. Clarify.
  • Try to understand their point. They may have positive intentions. Don’t be stern.
  • Empathize. You may get into the same situation. Your belief will encourage them to help you.
  • Take informed action.
  • Look for something good in it. Make out something positive.

You may find yourself more vulnerable in the beginning. Give some time. The practice is about making the right decision. Not about shutting your mind.

Assume Positive Intent – The Conclusion

I don’t believe that people wake up in the morning saying, ‘Who can I treat poorly today?’. Assume positive intent.

– Mary Frances Winters

Assuming positive intent brings a positive change in you. Your growth depends on it.

It is a must in your professional life. Your personal front. For your spiritual growth. So, it is a significant practice.

It doesn’t take much. Just a slight change in your vision. A different way of thinking. A little step towards positivity. And a great change in your life.