Assume Positive Intent

by prash on 20 May 2008

Fortune Magazine’s May 12th issue features “The Best Advice I Ever Got” – nuggets of wisdom shared by select leaders of the industry. Among the many trite pieces of advice like “Be true to yourself” and “Do the right thing”, I think only one stood out:

Indra Nooyi recalls her father advising her 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 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. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response.

While not every piece of advice in this article is earth-shattering, some have indeed dramatically changed the lives of the recipient. For example, Larry Page’s adviser at Stanford University told him to “pursue the study of the link-structure of the web” and look where it got him.

Which ones did you like?

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