I want you to read that title again and just process the concept for a moment.
When was the last time you assumed good intent?
I was introduced to this concept yesterday, recording a podcast with Amy Miller . We were talking about salary negotiations- specifically how most job seekers don’t really understand the role that recruiters play in salary negotiations. Inevitably, job seekers assume the worst about recruiter intent. I think it’s fair to say we’ve been conditioned to believe that everyone is just trying to save a buck, not look out for us. We’re all skeptics, to the worst degree.
Rightfully so. We’ve all been burned. The worst kind of burn when it comes to the job search, in my book, has to be ghosting. Ghosting is also known as the disappearing act, whatever you want to call it. Recruiters and hiring managers ghost candidates. Managers ghost employees (usually right before they get fired). It happens in our personal lives, too. Dates stop texting. Friends don’t call you back. I recognize all of these are first world problems. Skepticism is a by-product of first world problems, see. When you’re not focused on survival, you have more time to worry about politics and pleasantries that add up to strange perceptions and consequences, but I digress.
My point in sharing this philosophy is that I am a member of this community of skeptics and I genuinely feel like looking at things from that perspective of good intent changes the tint on my glasses to one that’s more rose-colored. In all honesty, I feel a little vulnerable admitting I’m such a cynic at the risk of coming off as a negative, over-analytical person. But what the hell. This blog is supposed to be my lesson in failure, right?
So the scenario that came to mind first was work. I think we’ve all been in that situation where we get an e-mail from the boss late at night, “yelling” about not getting something right. You go into immediate defense mode, pointing to what could’ve gone right or wrong, trying not to take the blame. I’ve found that the smaller the company, the harder it is not to take things personally.
When you’re knee deep in spouting bullshit about how your boss doesn’t appreciate you, you’re not really thinking about the intent of your manager. I like to believe, especially in the context of this particular life lesson, that those managers have good intentions to make the company, the process, the widget, whatever, better. Unfortunately, a lot of managers have no idea how to appropriately deliver feedback but that’s another blog for another day.
In life, I know it’s a lot harder – assuming your loved ones do love you despite their actions. But, in my mind at least, assuming they were coming from a place of love really changes my perspective on the whole thing.
Ponder, apply, assume the best in people. Try it for a day – it really makes a difference.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.