Feb 5 – Find the Positive Intent

When you look for the positive intent in another's behavior, you find your own inner peace.

When you look for the positive intent in another's behavior, you find your own inner peace.

Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM) Tip of the Day

February 5 – We judge ourselves by our intentions but judge others by their behavior. Challenge yourself to find the positive intent in others’ behavior.


Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP

How often do you show up in life in any way other than in an honorable manner? And if you perchance are acting less than the best version of yourself, don’t you always have a very valid reason for why this is so? The question then is: what happens with this belief that other people could somehow be behaving under a different set of operating conditions?

We teach this concept in Cheetah’s project management programs. When I get the chance to speak to large groups of project managers, I always ask this question: “How many of you show up to work and say – ‘Today I’m going to be a real screw-up?'” I’ve yet to get anyone to ever raise their hand. Then I ask, “How many of you know people who are real screw-ups?” Pretty much everyone raises their hand.

How can it be, in groups of several hundred people, that not one person will admit to ever intending to being a screw-off, yet people believe others are screw-ups? It gets to their intention and our perception. So, the issue is NOT that the other person is a screw-up. The issue is our perception of the other person’s behavior.

I was at an event the other night with a friend. She wanted to leave early because she was uncomfortable with this guy’s behavior. She perceived that he had some ill intent toward her. While I thought the guy was acting a bit odd, I didn’t perceive him to have ill intent. I thought he might have some type of medical condition. I was able to enjoy the event because I didn’t have the same perceptual dissonance between his behavior and his intent. My friend was not, and she left early.

So, the point is: when you align you perceptions of another person’s behavior with the reality that most, if not all, people have positive intent, you have a much wider window of tolerance for the normal variations in human behavior. When you can increase your window of tolerance for someone else’s behavior, you can increase your range of possible responses to them. The next time you perceive someone else’s behavior as negative, stop and ask yourself: “How can I respond to them in a way that honors that they are acting with their own positive intent?”

Share your experiences with finding the positive intent in other’s behavior on the Cheetah Learning Facebook Page: http://tinyurl.com/n96fzu7

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