Assume Good Intentions

Assume Good Intentions

By Heather Wood

Easier said than done, right?! Sometimes when experiencing personal conflict, we jump to the top of our ladder and assume the other person is in the wrong. Or worse, they are trying to do us harm and damage our reputation. It can be challenging to press the internal pause button and assume the other person’s intentions are good.

Recently, I was coaching an executive through a difficult situation.  He and one of his teammates were in opposition on which direction to take a group challenge. His natural reaction was one of stubbornness; to dig in his heels and fight for his point of view “No, you are wrong and I am right and we should do it my way” is what he wanted to say.  To complicate matters, they are part of a global team.  They are in different countries with time zone constraints and language difference.  They primarily communicate through email and conference calls.  It was easy for him to assume a posture of conflict because he was by himself, at his computer, in his country reading his teammate’s opposing view point in an email.  Cue the fireworks!

So, how did he keep that initial reaction in check?  Assume the best of intentions, of course!  Without the benefit of being able to look his team member in the eyes, it was difficult for my client to read the situation.  “Was she just joking?” Is there an opportunity to meet in the middle? Is the disparity of opinion a starting or an ending point? Through guided conversation and introspection, we identified the following:

  • Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow. You don’t always have to be stubborn, skeptical, defensive, or right
  • Make the effort to appreciate and acknowledge the lens and filters of others – they enhance the experience
  • Good things will happen for the entire team when all points of view have been heard and vetted
  • Take a step back and look at where the team is headed; focus on the team’s goal, not just your personal interest

It takes effort and can be stressful.  Feelings are feelings and are not always easy to identify and control. However, making the conscious effort to assume the best of intentions, you can avoid the worst part of conflict and embrace the good.  If you are interested in exploring self-awareness through coaching, team alignment or conflict resolution, we should talk.  Please contact Heather Wood at heather.wood@mcgpartners.net.

About MCG Partners: Passion. People. Performance.

MCG Partners is a consultancy specializing in executive coaching, leadership development, talent management, organizational effectiveness, and management training solutions. MCG Partners is also a Predictive Index® (PI®) certified partner.


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