Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Assuming good intentions can be tough, but may help

It still amazes me how the workplace provides such fertile ground for miscommunications, misunderstandings, and indirect conversations. One of the most unfortunate and damaging elements of poor communication between two people at work (or between organizations and their employees) is the baggage that builds up over time, which in turn, affects trust and the ability to have or accept effective exchanges moving forward.

Once someone feels that they’ve been misinterpreted or ignored, natural defenses rise against the other individual or organization. And that defense mechanism becomes a significant factor in the failing working relationship, which of course makes everyone part of the problem.

In my work, I often have the unique opportunity to hear all sides of a problem or conflict. With that in mind, I’m confident in saying that 9 times out of 10, even in the center of a conflict, people are not calculating or untrustworthy. They’re simply centered on their personal perspective of the problem and how it affects their own experience. Once someone is upset, they seldom are equipped to openly listen to the other side of the problem or more importantly accept how they may have a hand in it. And even with that, it’s generally not a matter of being untrustworthy or malicious, it’s a matter of being upset and reactively self-centered about the issue at hand. These aren’t helpful workplace behaviors but they’re definitely typical.

So here’s my tidbit today. In the best of circumstances, and more importantly in the midst of conflict—be it covert or overt—try entering a conversation assuming good intentions on the part of the other person or your organization. Although it may be tough, it’s one thing you can do to begin to move the relationship in a better direction.



  Sandy Nucelli wrote @

“Self centered about the issue at hand”…this was the key point for me. I find that in any “team” work environment people sometimes forget the global effects of their actions based on the personal impact of the issue at hand. When we step back and look at it from a team standpoint it gives us a clearer view of team cause and effect, rather than the personal one. No matter what the directive, it always seems helpful to think about how it touches each aspect of the job. I visualize the spokes of a wheel in order to keep that perspective.
I am still the center but the key is the support I need to succeed. None of us can do it alone. I try to step back and see where each “spoke” is coming from.

  Fran Brockmyre wrote @

Good article, true in one’s personal life as well as at work.

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