You have probably heard someone say before that you should give someone the benefit of the doubt, or as the title says, assume their good intentions. Chances are pretty good that it was put in terms of helping them, giving them a second chance… just look at how the phrase starts: “give someone”.
The truth is, however, that there are a lot of benefits to you when you assume the good intentions of others, too. Some of it is internal, because you put up less walls (though that does leave you open to more emotional hurt, as well), and some of it is external… people remember when someone treats them well, and tend to return the favor.
What, specifically, are some of the benefits of assuming someone else’s good intentions? I’m glad you asked… here is a list of a few of the many benefits of assuming good intentions:
Benefits Of Assuming The Good Intentions Of Others
When you assume the good intentions of others, they notice it, even if it’s mostly subconscious. This results in them being more open towards you, as well, which can easily lead to more friends.
And, of course, being suspicious of the motives of other people can cause them to react negatively and push you away… resulting in the loss of opportunities for friendship.
Many of the same reasons for having more friends apply to this, as well, as does the actual fact of having more friends. It also helps to make you the type of person that someone else would want to help, as well as the type that they would introduce to others and recommend to others.
Trust is one of the most important (if not THE most important) factors in the strength of a relationship. Assuming the good intentions of your significant other go a long way toward establishing and strengthening that trust.
It also reduces the chances of being hurt (emotionally) accidentally, because you assume that they didn’t intend to hurt you… which reduces the sting considerably.
When you assume the good intentions of the people that you come into contact with, you avoid a lot of stress… you don’t worry about how to protect yourself from being hurt, you don’t worry as much about why they did this or that, and what it means about what they think about you, etc. Basically you have less stress because you reduce your worry load considerably.
More Help When You Need It
Assuming good intentions also tends to make you treat people better, since you don’t consider them potential sources of hurt. Since you don’t consider them in that light, it makes you far more open to helping them, more open to giving of yourself.
The people you are around will notice that you’re that type of person, and will tend to respond in kind, sometimes even including asking their friends and associates to help you. That adds up to a lot larger available pool of help.
This is pretty simple, and derives from many of the previous points: less stress, more friends, and better relationships all tend to bring more happiness into your life individually, let alone all taken together. These three things also each strengthen the other, and being happier strengthens all three as well.
It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle, a self-reinforcing positive loop.
People Tend To Live Up To Your Expectations
One other thing to remember, one that focuses more on the other person, is that people tend to live up to your expectations. If you expect people to be bad, and to do things for bad reason, you’ll find that there actually is more of that in your life, especially from the people you’re around the most, like family.
On the other hand, if you expect people to be good, and to do things for good reasons, you’re likely to find that there is more of that.
Which of those would you prefer?
There are plenty more benefits, as well, but this should be a strong enough list to get anyone to give serious thought toward changing their outlook to include being more open to assuming people have good intentions. The benefits simply far outweigh the possibility of getting hurt a bit more often.
One word of warning, though… you can’t take this to extremes, either. If you see a stranger walking toward you with a knife or a gun in their hand, you might not want to assume their intentions are good. The same may go for people that you know who consistently do show that they do things intentionally to hurt you (or others). At some point you may want to take the energy that you’re investing in people who behave that way and spend it elsewhere… but don’t let those few people ruin your assumptions about others.
I’d love to read stories, if anyone has one, about how assuming the good intentions of others helped you… if you have one, please share it in comments.