[Articles on Communication][Freeing the Mind - Articles on Personal Development]

Everything has a positive intention.

How do I know that? Actually I don't. I do know, however, that no one knows their true motivation. The reasons we give for what we do are usually made up afterwards. They are usually uttered because they are socially acceptable. Even the worst criminal believes that what they are doing is right, or good in some way. Otherwise they wouldn't do it. Was it Baby Face Malone who, as he lay dying with multiple bullet wounds after committing many crimes, muttered, 'I only wanted to help people.'

As a guide it helps to think that everybody thinks they are doing right. If we think others do bad things because they have evil intentions then we give up trying to influence them, and we may become afraid of them. So assume that everyone has a good intention - however bad they behave to you or to others!

If you want to influence, then assume a good intention. They probably have a good intention, or at least you can persuade them they have!

How can we use this information?

We use this by reframing or reinterpreting the meaning of something. For example:

Harry died.
You know, it reminds us we are all mortal creatures.

I got sacked.
Now you've really got an opportunity to discover your real abilities.

There was a massacre on the television news.
It teaches us all that we have to be careful.

I hate you.
Thank you for being honest with me. I appreciate that. Not everyone would show their real feelings.

You made the stupidest mistake I have ever seen!
Thank you for that feedback. You must care a lot about what I do.

That dress you are wearing is awful.
You must care about how I look, otherwise you wouldn't have told me that.

I don't want to speak to you ever again.
You are a sincere person. When you are upset with someone you don't want to pretend to get on with them. I admire your sincerity.

I feel awful.
You are very aware of your emotions. It's good to get in touch with your feelings, isn't it?

This is hopeless.
You have tried very hard, haven't you. And you care deeply about the outcome.

I'll never succeed.
You care about success don't you?

Do you get the idea? There is a silver lining, we are told, in every cloud. When you pick out the silver lining then the other person is less likely to disagree with you. There are many types of reframing, and reframing intentions as positive is one type.

Do you think these are bad examples, or not very good ones?
You must be interested, otherwise you wouldn't have thought about this, would you?
And you must have an idea what good examples are - how else could you know these were not so good! Perhaps you can share them with us.

Let's try a conversation:

I'm not going to help you any more.

Thank you for being honest with me. I appreciate that.

You always get yourself into trouble, and need help.

You must care about me, otherwise you wouldn't be so angry.

I don't care about you at all!

You are very forthright! That's a good quality.

You are trying to weasel your way round me!

You are very strong minded. I don't think I could weasel my way round you if I wanted, do you?

Probably. What was that help you wanted?

We do not know why we do things, so if someone claims that we are doing something for some reason and this is a good reason we are inclined to believe it. If we are angry or negative with another person, and that person responds with positive reframing, then we are likely to get confused. Here we are trying to be obnoxious and the other person is saying lots of nice things we like to hear!

Remember, here we are learning about reframing positive intentions. In real conversations we would use all the skills we have, not just reframing. For example, we would use other parts of the Being Specific Model.

More examples:

No I won't do it.

You are very confident.

Your product is just too expensive.

You are concerned about good value, aren't you?

Your ideas don't work.

You have a clear idea of what does and what doesn't work, and you are determined to get it, aren't you. That's good.

I once heard a talk where the speaker said the difference between how men and women behave can be illustrated by how they deal with an angry dog. A man would, the speaker claimed, say, 'Good dog! Good dog!' while he looked around for a big stick. A woman, on the other hand would say, 'Good dog! Good Dog!', until it actually believed it was a good dog! I don't believe that this represents a sex difference. It's just good psychology. When you reframe you are telling them what a good doggy they are until they believe it! And it works. It works because at heart, that's what we all are. No matter how foolish our behaviour, our intentions are always good.

Speak soon,

Ken Ward.

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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
All Rights Reserved.