I was speaking with my colleague Rob Swan who found most of the following on Mark Sigal’s Blog. A simple, yet profound truth. I believe that most designers are naturally disposed to think this way. Of course, not all designers and not all the time. That said, when teams are all disposed to think this way that's when the real magic happens...
".....I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or a problem becomes very different. 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..." Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsico.
Think of the assumption of positive intent as a kind of 'pose,' and noodle for a moment on the ripple effect that it creates.
For one, adopting this pose validates the general desire that others have to be perceived favorably. It's a simple truth, but when your body language is favorable to others, they are more likely to ACT favorably to you.
Two, by adopting this pose, you soften your heart, relax your muscles and open your ears. My experience is that greater outcomes tend to come from openness, optimism and agility than narrowness, skepticism and tension so adopting such a pose is less a matter of idealism and more one of self-interest.
Assume Positive Intent