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Leadership Tips: Assume Good Intent


Have you ever had a time that you assumed a person was intentionally avoiding you and then later learned that the situation had nothing to do with you at all?

Most of us have.

A year after graduation, I was working for the University of Washington and was leading a group of students for a study abroad program. There was a young woman, Laura, who continually did not respond promptly to emails and phone calls. I started to assume that she didn’t care. Not only that, but I gave opportunities to other students instead of her, because I thought she wouldn’t want them.

In a long overdue one-on-one meeting, I asked her questions about it and learned that her family was going through a crisis. She didn’t know how to juggle. It was a major smack in my face. How could I have made those assumptions about her? Why on earth did I not just ask? I cared about her and wanted her to be successful – yet my assumptions showed otherwise.

It is so easy to go to the dark place when there is silence. It is so important to have the conversations and get curious with everyone in your company, team, family, etc. If you don’t, you miss a major opportunity to not only understand, but also to truly connect.

This week’s tip is to assume good intent prior to having conversations. Whether it is someone on your team who is not answering an email promptly or your partner not doing a household chore, before walking into the conversation, believe that the person is doing his or her best.

It is not always an easy task - it is well worth it though.


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