Usually I write about miscarriage and hope…  because while your in the moment all might seem hopeless, but we at OurHopePlace are here to let you know you are not alone and there is hope…

But today, I am writing about assuming positive intent (without any link to miscarriage).  Ask yourself, do you assume positive intent?  Do you for some people and not for others?  Why or why not?  Trust probably comes into play… (a subject for another day).

Here is an interesting article, great lead in and some interesting questions to ponder:  Assume Positive Intent by Marilyn Lustgarten

“I can’t believe anyone would do something so stupid!” How quick and automatic is the leap from believing in someone one minute to flying off the handle in anger the next when someone does something so contrary to our expectations!

When we immediately start to rant in frustration over someone else’s action or decision without the benefit of understanding the why behind their motivation, then our reaction says a lot more about us than it does about them.

According to a new study in the International Journal of Psychology, the effects of anger can last 7 days. If being disappointed by others actions immediately makes you see red, then imagine the cumulative affect on your attitude and therefore, on your organization, if you are always at some point on the continuum of getting angry to staying angry to getting over being angry – about something that might not be based on reality!

The next time something happens that you didn’t expect or wouldn’t have done, stop and ask yourself these five questions before rushing to judge someone’s negative intentions:

1. How do I know that the person’s intention was bad?

Chances are you’re making assumptions and so, are overlooking the possibility that the other person could have had more or different information or another interpretation and based his or her decision to act accordingly.

2. Is my concern self-focused?

Like the father of the family in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who lamented, “Why is this happening to me?” every time something didn’t go as planned, you are likely more worried about how you will be personally affected by what the other person did more than any real negative consequences to the organization.

3. Were my expectations clear?

No one should be expected to presume to know what you want or when you want it to be done.

4. Could it have been a mistake?

There’s an old saying, “If the learner hasn’t learned, then the teacher hasn’t taught.” Someone who is learning or doing something for the first time isn’t trying to mess up on purpose!

5. Why am I so angry?

That’s really the “$64,000 question.” You might need help exploring the reasons behind your outrage and learning how to better control your emotions.

It’s a leader’s job to gain followers by inspiring confidence. People are so complex, and so different – moved by different motives, controlled by different circumstances, and influenced by different experiences. Before you think the worst, find out the facts, and assume positive intent in the meantime. Most people are doing what they think is best for the right reasons. Assuming that will take you a long way.

Marilyn Lustgarten, executive coach and president of The Star Makers Group, works with leaders interested in achieving good to great performance. She also speaks and writes on strategic leadership issues and organizational transformation. Contact her at

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