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Your Positive Intent

Written By: Lauren Howard

I could not care less about your positive intent.

I would also make a healthy bet that organizations that promote positive intent as a method for resolving internal conflict are toxic AF.

The idea sounds so nice, right?

Assume that your colleague or customer meant the best possible thing out of what they did, and respond with that in mind.

Take the steaming pile of garbage they gave you and treat it like a precious gift because it’s how you heard it, not how it was.

Basically, when your colleague or customer acts like a jerk, YOU do the work to reconcile their behavior so you can get comfortable with it. YOU own the emotional labor of making hostility acceptable in your workplace while THEY get the full benefit of your mental contortions.

YOU, as the recipient of whatever they are serving up, are responsible to manage your responses and your reactions because they DiDN’t mEAn AnYthInG bY It.

Listen, if you didn’t intend to do it, don’t do it.

Understanding that’s not possible all the time, if you did it and it wasn’t what you meant, own it and apologize for it. Everyone makes mistakes.

But it not being someone’s intent does not make it go away, and it doesn’t make them immune to correction and repercussions for whatever it was.

Create a culture that is hospitable and safe enough that those conversations can be had without asking the recipient to ignore their likely very genuine response to make it more comfortable for the person who made them feel that way.

Positive intent is a patriarchal tool that makes it okay for the (often white, middle-aged, male) people at the top to excuse away negative or toxic behavior by saying it wasn’t their intent. It creates safe shelter for micro-agressions, MACRO AGGRESSIONS, boundary crossing, bad behavior from “visionaries” gag and so much more.

I’m taking you for what you said or did and not what you meant. I only have the proof you give me, and that’s what you said or did.

If that makes your environment more hostile, then you should probably consider who is actually making the environment hostile.



Founder & CEO at elletwo


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