Monday, December 21st, 2015
Assuming goodwill at work is a discipline, not a “good people approach” and not a test of your big heart. It is a stance, an intention, an emotional discipline. And it can work miracles. I’ve experienced it.
No organization is without its ugly moments and political alliances. We have structures of power and status in most companies. We haven’t found the alternative yet. And so there is often both real and perceived threat to our own positions and influence and resources.
I was involved in a quagmire that was going south fast. And I received lots of irate, insulting voice mail. (Always a bad way to communicate but a great way to dump anger). I was dying to pick up the phone and retaliate either with anger or the superiority of proving others wrong with facts.
I’m not sure what made me do it, but here’s what I did. I called back and left a message saying, “Let’s assume goodwill and talk when we have some which may not be today.” “Assume goodwill” became a phrase that was used often and sincerely and even with humor and undisguised difficulty. My reaction to hating organizational craziness and was a reset moment so the phrase caught on. It saved face and bought time and allowed real reflection to occur.
So in the spirit of the holidays and of the need for peace everywhere one looks, I offer the discipline of ASSUMING GOODWILL first. Talk second.