Years ago, from an audience full of senior leaders, a gentleman approached me as I exited the stage. “What you were describing in your keynote…I like to call ‘Presume Innocence’.” Instantly, I was struck by it’s simplicity.
At a basic level, presuming innocence means to decide, to choose to believe – ahead of time – that the intention of another person is a positive one.
Think about it. How often do you ‘assume’ a negative intention on the part of others? The driver beside you is cutting your off because he is disrespectful. The co-workers who are laughing together are ‘wasting time’. The teenager who is not talking to you much has ‘an attitude’. The spouse who is working late for the third time this week does not care about you and all that you have to do when you get home at the end of the day…or he/she is having an affair.
How often have those negative assumptions been wrong?
Or, how often have you made them ‘right’…by how you acted, what you noticed, what you presumed?
Imagine all of the ways you can apply the strategy of ‘Presume Innocence’ in your life.
Mornings can be challenging in the race to get out the door. Before you go to bed at night, presume that your family loves and respects you and wants to start the day well, just as you do.
As you drive to work, presume that your co-workers have your back…and that they need you to have theirs.
Before you head into that meeting about budgets (the one that can be notoriously boring), presume that the meeting organizers value you and your opinion, and that they want you to be there.
As you are interacting with that person with whom you regularly conflict, presume that they want to be valued and understood, just like you.
As you arrive home at the end of the day, presume that you will have an evening full of meaningful connection with the people you care about most.
Presuming innocence allows you to move toward what you want – what I think we all want – the most positive outcome possible!
When can you presume innocence today?
Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!