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What does positive intention mean?

Every behaviour has a positive intention. Everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources they have available. People make the best choice they can at the time.

This is one of the presuppositions of NLP.

NLP practitioners assume that behind most behavior is a positive intention. Typically, people are pretty good at naming their own positive intention when challenged (I was only trying to help…) but often have a harder time seeing the positive intention of others.

Positive intention means that people do things because they think that they will gain something from their behavior. Seeing things from this perspective, we might be more understanding of people’s ignorance, rather than being overly critical of what seems to be their unreasonable behavior. From this lens, it allows us to look for what intentions might be underlying their unhelpful behavior.

Every behavior has a positive intention, even if the behaviour isn’t positive.

It is one of the difficult presuppositions to believe because it forces us to gain a higher level of awareness, and one that might be outside of our comfort zone.

It’s easy enough to understand that people like Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, your closest relative, your best friend, have positive intentions at heart when they do something, even if it’s something you don’t agree with.

But what about those terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Centre? A serial killer? A child molester? Even that guy who pissed you off this morning?

It can become a little more difficult.

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