Assuming Positive Intent
I've written a decent amount over time about assuming positive intent. Whether it is employee recognition or finding ways to include gratitude - I think that this these types of tools are very important to battle our inherent bias toward negativity.
I recently received this article in an email from Trello. It is a good read, and I recommend it. They use a modified form of Hanlon's razor to seek out a more nuanced vision for why people do things. To quote them:
Never attribute to malice or stupidity that which can be explained by moderately rational individuals following incentives in a complex system of interactions.
This really works for me, though I prefer the much simpler maxim from an old boss of mine:
Assume positive intent
I think that it can be very hard to assume positive intent. It may be easier (in fact it may only be possible) to use the version that they came up with. I don't have to extend myself (though I do have to do work) to think about moderately rational individuals following incentives.
I believe you do have to extend yourself a little bit to assume positive intent. By which I mean, I have a desire to see my own motives in a positive light and I have to extend this to others and see me in them (and them in me) in order to assume positive intent.
Let's be straight though, it's hard sometimes. So I appreciate having a fallback position. When I can't see positive intent, I can look for moderately rational individual following incentives. And this much better than some of the alternatives that we sometimes come up with.
I work for Techtonic as the leader of the software delivery group. I am a Certified Scrum Product Owner.