a blue banner with the words "5 Reasons to Always Assume Positive Intent" in white text accompanied by a woman who has icons of a bridge, text bubble, magnifying glass, lightbulb, peace sign, hands shaking, and thought bubble over her head

By Bridgette Ralph | 2 Minute Read

There are many reasons why we should always assume positive intent. In the Agile space, we take pride in being honest and transparent in our communication. If we are suspicious or judgmental towards our teammates or clients, these actions may cause a weakening of the relationship. Breaking down trust may also cause negative impacts such as poorer quality products, reduction in project efficacy, or even termination of future business.

By always assuming positive intent, we can build strong, authentic, and mutually beneficial relationships, which will produce the best outcome for ourselves and our clients. In this blog, I will share five reasons why we should always assume positive intent.

1. It Promotes Peace

a blue and grey hand shaking with a peace sign above themGetting angry and frustrated with a client is never advisable. We want to avoid heated conversations and refrain from saying things we will regret and must apologize for later.

2. It Does No Harm

a red no circleAssume the best of your clients and teammates, and they will assume the best of you. Being judgmental and making false assumptions or speculations about them will hurt the relationship and potentially lead to loss of business.

3. It Provides Clarity

a blue thought bubble with a question mark in it accompanied by a grey bubble with lines in itAssuming positive intent reminds us to ask thoughtful clarifying questions and helps us redirect the conversation to avoid conflict and confusion when needed.

4. It Builds Bridges

two people standing on either side of a cliff with a bridge between them

By taking the positive intent approach, we are constantly building bridges of trust and communication between ourselves and the client. If we make negative assumptions, we tear down trust.

5. It Seeks to Understand

a blue head with a lightbulb and magnifying glass in itEmbodying this approach keeps situations and conversations from escalating into complicated misunderstandings. With positive intent, we seek to understand the situation and the person instead of jumping to being offended or judgmental.

It is a fact that always assuming positive intent goes against our human nature. When someone is rude or dismissive, we feel the emotional slight and may want to respond in the same manner. Feeling these emotions is understandable because no one likes being mistreated. But remember, you never know what kind of day that person is having, or what may be happening in their world. It does not hurt you to give them the benefit of the doubt and to forgive and move on in the moment. In fact, doing so may change the entire tone of the meeting and the future of the relationship.

May I challenge you to try this approach and see how it feels? Next time someone is rude to you or is abrupt in a meeting, assume positive intent and see what happens. I promise you may be pleasantly surprised.