If you're in the Uncharted Veterinary Community or listen to the Uncharted Podcast, you have probably heard the phrase, “Assume good intent.” It's an important mindset shift that can turn a conversation around before it even begins. What exactly does it mean to assume good intent? We opened up the conversation in the Uncharted Community. Here are a few of the ways our members describe what it means to them!
Assume Good Intent To Focus on Compassion
Try turning to this piece of advice when dealing with others who are acting in an emotional or unkind way.
Clients call and show up because they care about their pet or else they wouldn't be calling or showing up. We don't know why the other person is feeling the way that they are, but they feel their actions are justified. So assume they are doing what they feel is right or that they don't know what they don't know.– Kyle Ann S.
For me, its two-fold. First of all, I refuse to believe that anyone woke up and just decided to be mean or annoying. Second, if I assume that another person has good intentions (despite their current behaviour), it means that I always behave in a manner that I think is appropriate for myself. Thinking the best of other people or having compassion for them because their life might be temporarily out of control makes me as good as I can be. Bad mouthing them makes me not as good.– Saye C.
I can assume good intentions and use evidence to be proved wrong. Or assume the opposite and be someone I don't like very much. I don't think anyone jumps out of bed and actively eats cereal while plotting how to make the lives of everyone around them miserable. But you can of course, use evidence to prove me wrong!-Lisa B.
Assume Good Intent When Someone Makes a Mistake
Look to this advice when you're giving feedback. Can you sit down next to this person and assume they were doing their best when they made a mistake?
I have a very basic way of seeing it. When someone messes up, I assume they did what they thought was correct. We can have a discussion about why it was not the right thing to do or how to do it different the next time but I ASSUME the choice they made was with GOOD INTENT.– Amy D.
I assume someone was doing what they thought was right and I think about how they might have been set up to fail as a way to frame the good intent. Was there something this person didn’t know or didn’t have that meant they couldn’t have done the thing correctly? For me that’s a bit more concrete than just assuming they meant well and helps me also identify where a system or resource might be broken.– Ken B.
Assume Good Intent to Be Happier in Practice
Assuming the best of your colleagues is going to make you a better member of your clinic's team. Shifting into this mindset and getting curious about where you can improve together can bring your practice culture into a more positive place. Uncharted Community member, Dr. Tracy Sands shared how she hires based on culture and that makes applying this advice even easier. Keep an eye out for her workshop to open soon – Empowering Your Team to Get Positive and Stay that Way. It's happening LIVE on October 9!
I believe that if you hire based on culture and you have a team that wants to be at your clinic then you have to give them trust. Trust can be a hard thing to earn so it's best in my opinion to give those team members the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. So, again, the team is hired to share the same core values so I assume that they have good intent with the work that they do for the clinic. When they started that task, they had good intent but perhaps they made a true mistake, are dealing with a heavy burden, were never taught differently in their lives or (most importantly) were not trained or communicated to properly.
I don't believe team members think “oh, can I make sure this prescription label has the wrong expiration date on it?” or “How can I really mess up this schedule so that we all have to stay longer past our scheduled shift?” When I look at a situation like that I remind myself to get curious – “hey, they came from a place of good intent, what went wrong?” This puts ME in a place of good intent and then I am more likely to have a better overall team because I am more likely to come out as a better leader with better processes from what I learned by getting curious.– Tracy S.
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