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Champion Leadership Blog

The Best Workplace Communication Technique Ever! Presuming Good Intent!

Interpersonal communication is complicated, isn’t it?

Trying to figure out the best way to communicate with multiple personalities in the work environment can be stressful and confusing, can’t it?

But, you have to start somewhere, don’t you

A place to start is by “presuming good intent.”

But, what does this mean, why is it important, and how does it work?

It’s not as hard as it sounds, but you do need to take a leap of faith to make it work.

Imagine you’re about to have a conversation with someone and your history with them has you presuming poor or negative intent.

What is your mindset heading into the interaction?

How are your defenses up?

How might those defenses cause you to place meanings and intentions on the other person’s language that judges their decisions or behaviors?

Here’s an example:

A new CEO comes in to lead a company.

His intention is to interview all other C-Level executives and vice presidents to get their ideas on the company’s strengths and areas for improvement.

When the schedule of appointments is released, COO, who had applied for the CEO position notices that his appointment is scheduled last, behind even the vice presidents.

He presumes he is scheduled last because this new CEO feels threatened by him and wants to meet with everyone else first to find his replacement.

This COO, instead of trying to build a relationship with the new CEO, holds back on vital information and is very short and curt. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the COO is replaced a few months later.

In reality, the new CEO’s travel schedule conflicted with the COO’s vacation, and the CEO also wanted to meet with lower level executives first to understand the stresses they were under from their senior executives so he could discuss the VPs concerns.

Imagine, now, if the COO, had presumed good intent.

How might the future of the COO turned out different?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t assume because you will make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

What if, instead of presuming negative/poor intent, even with people with whom you have a history of negative, passive-aggressive behavior, you first got curious to seek first understand, instead of judging first?

Presuming good intent changes the dynamic of the conversation.

Presuming good intent brings different energy to the conversation.

Presuming good intent will change the results of your conversation and can begin to build better relationships.

Give it a try, commit to presuming good intent in 2016!

What do you think? Please leave a comment below and add to the conversation here.

’til next time Communicate With Power!

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach

There are 6 comments. Add yours.

  1. Peggy Wehrman

    This rang especially loudly for me today. Thank you for helping to redirect my compass today!
    I have two conflicts in my life that continue to challenge my ability to “assume good intent” but I post affirmations around my space and I verbalize the words often, all teachings of your word. This is most helpful.
    Yesterday, I had a class on Introversion/Extroversion which was stellar by the way. I found that I am an ambivert. That should play in my favor to keep these two areas of conflict under control…it is a constant and daily challenge so thank you again.
    Cheers!

    • Skip Weisman

      Peggy,
      Thank you, so much, for sharing your story. You must have either heard Daniel Pink speak on his new book “To Sell Is Human,” or had someone present a program on that book and concept. I saw him do his keynote on that subject in November and it was awesome. I was able to meet him afterwards and we shared our common interests in this area of communication and influence.

      I think most of us are “ambiverts,” really, and if we’re not, we need to learn to become one.

      Welcome to my ambivert world. I’m please you found value in my article today, and thank you for your continued interest in my work and writings. Please come back again and add value to our conversation here.

  2. Mirza

    I loved this article. This article was a refresher this morning to my belief that positive attitude brings good changes. IMHO, even if the CEO did have an intention to replace the COO, he may have changed his mind after looking at the positive attitude and helpful nature of the COO. He may have found that the information that the COO has is vital for his own (the CEO’s) success at the job. If you are sincere to your company and work hard to benefit the company which is paying your bills, there is a good chance that people will ultimately realize that you are a good asset to your company. Those who oppose you might also start liking you because you do not try to harm their success in the company. Good positive attitude can result in a win-win situation.

    • Skip Weisman

      Mirza,
      THank you for your comments and adding value to the conversation. I value your friendship and following here and much appreciate your continued interest in my work and writings. You make great points that are a great reinforcement of the message here.
      Skip

  3. Francisco Avalos

    I’ve read Dr. Dyer book on the Power of Intention a few years ago and certainly your article connected some dots with a real life example between Good & Bad Intent. CEO’s, COO’s, CIO’s, VP, etc. all have “intent” simply because there’s self interest involved and a driver for achieving an individual goal that is employed by the individual. The cross point between good intent vs. bad intent is often compromised is by one’s “integrity” to achieve the goal or get a result.

    In the case of the COO and Mira alluded, if the COO integrity and self confidence was secured, his intention would probably be weighed towards helping the CEO and empowering the CEO to think twice about letting him go; thus giving him a “chance” to stay in the company; however, on the flip side, the COO probably saw the writing on the wall that he’s not fit by board’s point of view of becoming a CEO of the company, hence, I can see the COO reluctance to partake and bad intent that he himself fostered.

    Overall, I believe that if your integrity is secure, your good intent will always trounce bad intentions and the best outcome will always triumph even though in the heat of the moment, it may not seem that way; and yet, nothing is guarantee other than you will sleep well at night. Quoting from the poet Hafiz: “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth ‘you owe me.’

    As always thanks Skip for another thoughtful post!

  4. Mirza

    You are welcome. Please continue to do the good work you are doing. Many times your “word of the day” words are exactly the words I am looking for to keep myself motivated.

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