Letters To Seneca – Letter 11

Dear Seneca,

“Assuming positive intent doesn’t mean being naïve; it means choosing to see the best in people until proven otherwise.” – Simon Sinek

In the world I live in today it’s easy to assume negative intent in the humans around us. This assumption comes from the constant bombardment of negative media, such as television news. The more I think about it, the more I realize that you probably faced something similar, just through different mediums and quantities. I’m assuming your form of garbage television news would be people preaching at street corners about the end being near.

To avoid these negative feelings toward others, I prune my information consumption constantly. Always looking to inject positive and remove negative. Outside of adjusting what I do externally, I also have a simple internal trick. Anytime I’m knowing heading into an interaction with a stranger, a co-worker, a loved one, or anyone else I assume positive intent. This applies to interactions that are likely to be intense as well.

The thoughts I repeat in my head prior to entering the interaction is that this person only wants the best for me and this conversation. They’re here to support, love, and enjoy this experience. By repeating these thoughts in my head, I enter the conversation with a positive exterior and interior. My initial positive intent helps sustain that feeling throughout the conversation irrelevant of how the other person behaves.

Of course, I end up in interactions where the other person is defensive and aggressive (that’s rare), but with the right mentality, you’re able to disarm them with kindness. One additional trick I use in these moments is to think of the other person as a small child. As they react emotionally and throw hurtful words around, it’s easier to not take any of the points to heart, but instead feel bad for the child. This perspective shift during the moment reduces the power of their words, which in turn calms them down because they realize you’re not going to react back.

Assuming positive intent in others not only prevents me from reacting but improves my experience interacting with others.

Humans are pretty amazing, we just have to give them a chance.