How to Think the Best of Others

How to Think the Best of Others

When was the last time you went on an Internet rabbit trail? I hate to think how often I have. Generally I realize I’m far off my intended topic and have spent far more time than I would like to admit on this little trail. About a month ago, though, the trail led somewhere productive.

I can’t tell you how, but I ended up on the Center for Adaptive Schools posting of Norms for Collaboration. This one-page paper provides tips for improving team environments. The last point applies far more broadly than working in team environments and has had a great impact on my interactions with those around me.

Presume Positive Intentions

Norms of Collaboration suggests that when we assume other people’s intentions are good, we will engage in more meaningful discussion and avoid unintentional put-downs. By nature, I think I’m a fairly positive person. Yet I have all-too-frequent moments when I allow an attitude that “the world is out to get me” to motivate my interactions with others. I assume the worst instead of the best about others.

When we assume the worst about another person, we very often don’t stop with just our thoughts. Our words and actions will follow (more…)

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