The Google Search That Keeps on Giving

By: John Ricco, CAE

After hearing a recent radio story on how organizations and individuals can improve their mindset and productivity, I decided to search the web to learn more. The first two “result pages” of a Google search for the phrase “assume positive intent” turned up some very interesting and surprising results – results that that could aid any individual in increasing the effectiveness and performance of themselves, their team and organization.

The first thing you may be thinking is, “Does anyone go beyond the first page of Google search results?”  In this instance, those who do will we be rewarded with a wealth of educational sites,  quotes by Fortune 500 CEO’s, links to the websites of Huffington Post, Life Hack, faith-based organizations, human resources experts, Forbes magazine, leadership gurus, Christian Mingle, lifestyle blogs and more.  Any Google search that provides such a wide and disparate group of resources such as “HuffPo” and Christian Mingle, would lead a person to believe they were on to something!

The basic premise of these sites is simple, if you want to be more effective in your work life; your relationships with friends, colleagues and loved ones and perhaps even with those you spar with in seemingly endless Facebook threads, assume positive intent.  Assume the person “on the other side of the table,” has a goal that is similar to, or in line with yours, but they may have a different opinion as to how to obtain that end-result.


In a not-for profit or trade association or work setting this concept can applied in a variety of ways with co-workers, direct reports, and even the “rogue” board member who seems bent on derailing meetings and projects.

Try taking a step back.  Is that board member really giving their time, energy and money just to be a thorn in the side of fellow board members and staff?  Chances are they have the same goals: to advance the profession, train and mentor a new generation of industry leaders, etc.  Ask yourself if the person in question is working to the best of their ability and has the organization’s best interests in mind.  If so, attempt to channel that desire toward the prescribed path of implementing the mission of the organization.  Until someone proves otherwise – assume positive intent.

What are some of the benefits of doing so?

  • Reduced negativity. Being angry, assuming the worst and wasting time worrying about people’s motives causes unnecessary stress and anxiety.
  • Strengthened relationships: Focusing on the work that needs to be done instead of questioning people’s intentions leads to stronger working relationships.
  • Increased collaboration: Once individual relationships are strengthened, increased trust begins to develop and barriers from old cliques, silos and bands of allies begin to break down.

To increase the performance of and improve the relationships in your life, your team and your organization, assume positive intent.



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