Assume The Best


August 27, 2010

You never know when you’ve heard something that will stick in your mind forever.  I had that experience a couple years ago when I was working as a HR Director at Fleishman Hillard, Inc.  One of the most memorable experiences during my time there was a HR learning session we put together called “Team Leader’s Unplugged”.  In this session, our bosses were on a panel and fielded questions from the HR team that we had solicited anonymously prior to the session.  It was interesting how much we learned about them professionally and personally by keeping them a little off guard with the questioning.  The one specific quote that has remained with me from that day was something my team leader, Lisa, said.  She said the best advice she could give someone is, “Assume the best.”

Assume the best.

It sounds simple enough, but it is far too easy to see or hear something and immediately have your suspicion raised.   You begin to judge based on a limited view of the facts of a situation or the motivation and context around a situation.  It happens every day in the workplace, at home, in stores, and anywhere people gather.  I fall prey to this thinking sometimes too.  But, it’s amazing how often Lisa’s words ring in my ears in situations that appear on the surface to be negative.

Assume the best.

It’s a test to hold yourself accountable to trying to really assume that the person in question really did have good intentions.  It’s challenging to sometimes stop and think why someone is making the choice they are.  Why?  Because it’s easier to make a quick review of a situation on the surface and assume the worst.

So, my challenge to you is this….assume the best.  Not just today, but every chance you get.  I promise it will change the way you think and react to many situations.   Do you have any phrases that you think about often that impact  your reactions and behavior?  Share them in the comments.


  • Timely reminder, Trish. Thanks. I’m headed into meetings over the next 10 days where remembering those words will get me through!

  • Trish,

    Thanks for this post. It’s great advice. I use a variation of this commonly with my team which is “Always assume positive intentions.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is conspiring against you. For me, this saying is a reminder to assume that when people do things that you don’t understand, they are doing whatever they are doing for the best possible reason. As an example, if you get an email that could be interpreted as condescending versus trying to provide helpful advice, chose to assume that the sender was trying to help you. It makes an enormous difference in how you read the email. I have had several people who’s effectiveness in dealing with people improved dramatically by making this simple mindset change.

    Good post. Thanks.


  • Trish – good, simple reminder – I remind people I work with that people wake up in the morning intending to do well, most dont wake hope hoping to make a mistake, hurt someone, or other stumbles – we all stumble from time to time

    thanks again

  • You always know what to say and when to say it Trish.

    I agree with Mike. Just wish the behaviors and intentions could be a bit more carefully guided by thinking about the outcomes and whether or not there’s integrity in tact.

    I had a very recent experience when someone’s intentions went from something doing good. Something in the best interest of so many. To something I just unfortunately can’t and won’t stand behind.

    Live. Learn. And keep the faith even when it tests you.

    Assume the best.

    I’m putting that one on the board in front of me.

Comments are closed.

Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 17.20.39

About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


Play Video


Play Video

Related posts

3 Reasons To Reveal Your Vulnerabilities

As I sat onstage at UNLEASH World 2022 in Paris last week, I had an epiphany. I need to be […]

Read More

I Cried in the Grocery Store: A Story of Soup and Loneliness

I cried in the grocery store. No, it wasn’t over the outrageously high prices that we’re facing post-pandemic. It wasn’t […]

Read More

Partner with me


Get in touch today to find out more about how I can help your organization leverage HR and HCM technology to attract, onboard, retain and manage top talent.