Assume Good Intent

“We judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.” Source

Assume positive intent

We naturally have a double standard when it comes to the actions of others. We blame circumstances for our own mistakes, but individuals for theirs. This double standard is called the Fundamental Attribution Error. In order to mitigate this bias, you should always assume positive intent in your interactions with others, respecting their expertise and giving them grace in the face of what you might perceive as mistakes.

When disagreeing, folks sometimes argue against the weakest points of an argument, or an imaginary argument (e.g. “straw man”). Assume the points are presented in good faith, and instead try to argue against the strongest version of your opponent’s position. We call this arguing against a “steel” position, instead of a “straw” one. This concept is borrowed from argue the “steel man” technique.

A “steel” position should be against the absolute most effective version of your opponent’s position — potentially even more compelling than the one they presented. A good “steel” position is one where the other person feels you’ve represented their position well, even if they still disagree with your assumptions or conclusion.

Source: GitLab Values: Assume positive intent

Copyright © 2023 Richard Morgan.