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Don’t judge me until you’ve walked in my shoes! Often said, often heard.

I’ve been working with a number of clients lately on the concept of Positive Intention. I remember the first time I heard about it. Myself and some colleagues were having a particularly rough time at work as we had a bully on our leadership team. I remember scoffing that the bully didn’t have any positive intention at all. What nonsense!

I misunderstood. 

Our unconscious minds serve to support and protect us. Our reptilian brains, if you like. Over time, we may evolve behaviours which support and protect us, but which are unhelpful to us, and possibly to others. Bullying is a great example of this. The behaviour, which is to pick on others who are less capable of defending themselves, has a positive intention for the bully. It serves to protect and support them. At some point, their bullying behaviour developed as a defense mechanism.

I’m just as guilty as the next person of occasionally not looking beyond a person’s behaviour to what lies beneath, it’s positive intention. When you are able to look beyond the behaviour, and see what might be driving it, then you will be able to walk in that person’s shoes, and understand their perspective more fully.

Stephen Covey wrote: “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.”

If you’d like to explore this topic more, give me a shout.