Assume the Best about People

Assume the Best about People

“You never know if people are doing the best they can, but if you assume that they are, it makes your life better. To assume the best about people is a selfish act because the life you change first is your own.” Brene Brown

What if you walked through your day holding the idea that everyone (your work teams, bosses, colleagues, partners, kids, etc.) is doing the best they can? How would that change your experience of yourself and the other person?

How can you begin to be accountable to being generous in how you judge other people?

When we can come from this perspective, we automatically get curious with others, we engage them from a more acknowledging space and everyone feels the difference. By doing this, we raise the bar of what is possible in any given situation.

I have a client, Tom, who just started in a new leadership position. Tom has noticed that the leaders in the organization lead from the top down – meaning they give directions and tend to fix problems verses empowering their people. Tom knows the power of coaching, having been coached himself, and he is making a conscious effort to coach his team.

In order to coach his team, it requires that he slow down, move himself in a non-reactive position, be curious with his team and ask them questions that will support them in figuring out the answers to their problems instead of giving them the answers.

This may take more time, but it requires a lot less mental energy from Tom and less stress and more wins for his team, leaving them feeling acknowledged and proud that they are learning and becoming more confident in their role and work.

What about holding your peers accountable? The root of not holding your peers accountable translates as fear of conflict and not wanting to make the other person feel bad. This behavior stops you from staying in your integrity. Holding a boundary around staying in your integrity creates healthy conflict.

In Patrick Lencioni’s book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, he states:

  • Team members who are close to one another may hesitate to hold one another accountable for fear of jeopardizing the personal relationship; this causes the relationship to deteriorate and allows the standards of the group to erode.
  • Members of great teams improve their relationships by holding one another accountable. This demonstrates that they respect and hold each other in reaching more of their potential.

Where do you start?

  • Create agreements with your team around what needs to be achieved, who delivers what and the behavior standards are of the team.
  • Regularly communicate openly with the team about how their teammates are doing against the objectives and standards.

This shifts the focus from individual contribution to team performance and shows your team members that you respect them enough to be transparent and hold them accountable to doing and being their best.

Assume the best!