via Stepcase Lifehack by Kit Cooper on 3/2/09
From the interviews I have done with people on getting the most out of life, it’s clear that assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.
Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How relationships can flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there. And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift. Less appreciated in the GTD world however is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.
Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda. How we got wronged by someone else. How a friend could have been more respectful. How a family member could have been less selfish.
However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.
The leap happens when we realize two things: 1) the self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt, and 2) the logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.
(Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world. There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.)
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine earlier last year:
“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life best practice among the people I have interviewed for my book. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality. But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.
Not only does such a shift make you more likeable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.
Kit serves as executive director for Best Life Practices Foundation. The website shares quality of life best practices discovered from in-person interviews with well known types like Richard Branson and Tom Skerritt to lesser known but equally interesting individuals. Kit also writes at www.bestlifepractices.org/blog
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