When we show up to work late, we don't consider ourselves lazy. We were tired or put in extra hours the night before.
But when a colleague shows up late, our brains instantly wants to categorize them as lazy. It's part of their personality, we assume, not an external factor.
It's a psychological thinking fault called The Fundamental Attribution Error.
Assume Positive Intent
Indra Nooyi, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, cited this to Fortune as the best advice she ever received.
Instead of making negative assumptions, leaders must make a habit out of making positive assumptions.
First, imagine there's a pause button
Stephen Covey talked about the gap between a stimulus and your reaction. In that gap, we can choose our response.
It means being mindful enough to recognize that something is about to impact your mood or emotions, and making a habit of hitting that mental 'pause' and reassessing.
The same is said for assuming positive intent: first Pause. Then Choose. Choose to imagine that the behavior or words of your colleagues are motivated by good intentions. Even when their actions seem objectionable at first glance.
Leaders that make this into habit bypass the most common psychological thinking faults that put others and yourself onto the defensive. So, you become a more effective, less frustrated leader.
1-minute from Caroline Webb: 'good person, bad circumstances'.