I have a client whose company places a premium on “assuming positive intent”. At its core, this is a choice to believe that most people want the same things we do and are not plotting against us, even when they are vocal in their disagreement with our positions or proposals.

When we assume positive intent, we are recognizing that we are all on the same team, and we begin to explore our differences from a place of curiosity instead of anger or frustration. This often leads to improved communication and collaboration.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Indra Nooyi (former Chair and CEO of PepsiCo), said “’When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent…your emotional quotient goes up. You don’t get defensive…You are trying to understand and listen because…you are saying, “Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’”

The next time someone disagrees with you in a meeting, or sends you an email that makes you uncomfortable, remember you have a choice. Start by assuming positive intent. If you don’t understand the other person, engage in conversation by being curious.

What opportunities have you missed in the last month to assume positive intent, at work or at home?Assumi