I know that Andy Grove of Intel says “only the paranoid survive”.
But, work relationships are sometimes corrupted by negative assumptions that take on a life all their own.
A jabrone speaks out against your idea in a meeting, and you naturally assume that he’s trying to sabotage your or embarrass you in front of the boss.
If this situation happens a couple of times, you might declare war and go on the offensive to neutralize or defeat him.
To interrupt this cycle, some organizational leaders urge their employees to “assume positive intent,”
Here’s some advice from the Heath brothers’ book Decisive:
Try to imagine that the behavior or words of your colleagues are motivated by good intentions, even when their actions seem objectionable at first glance.
This “filter” can be extremely powerful.
Indra Nooyi, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, cited it to Fortune as the best advice she ever received. from her father.
She said, “When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.…
You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ ”
Ask yourself, ‘What are other possibilities that may be more positive than what you are thinking?’
Maybe your colleague is just trying to help.
Bottom Line: It’s ok be a bit paranoid, but before going off half-cocked, assume a positive intent and see if that alters your perspective and reactions.
For more, see Heath, Chip & Dan. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Crown Publishing Group. 2013