I have worked for a lot of people in my life so far, and not all of them have been the best bosses. One that I had was a good person but struggled with the job as principal; it was just not the right fit at that time. Still, she had these nuggets of pure wisdom, and one was a phrase she instilled in me to this day. She reminded me that if I didn’t know all of the background in any situation that I needed to assume good intent from each member of the issue. Since I can never really know the perspective of anyone other than myself, I have to always assume good intent. At the time, this meant to me that whenever there as a parent with a concern about his or her child, I needed to remember that they came from a place of loving and protection even if this manifested itself in aggression or anger towards me. She helped me to realize that there are few people in this world who will come at you simply for the satisfaction they can get from attacking you. Most people just try to look out for their child. Period. As I do, I tried to use this in my greater life, too.
When I was speaking with my breast surgeon, he said something that I found jarring and upsetting at first. He said to me, “Basically, what you have here is the typical breast cancer. Nothing extraordinary here unless A and B.” Since then, we have discovered both A and B, but at first, I was quite put off by his nonchalance about my cancer. Typical to him or not, typical to this man who does nothing but breast cancer all day, every day, this was MY cancer and nothing about it was typical. Using the lens of assuming good intent, I can see that what he was saying was, “Don’t worry. We’ve got this. I do this all day, every day. You are going to be ok. I will take care of you.” Some people in my life were surprised at this perspective, but I jave to tell you that you will be so much happier if you come at things from this point of view.
Texting is one of the most important technological advances in my life, but it is sometimes so hard to infer tone and context. I have seen entire relationships get cracked apart because of texting and emails, and that is no lie. So remember, folks, assume good intent whenever possible. Chances are we are all on the same team.