Many conflicts, arguments and disagreements tend to stem from the fact that we assume the offending party set out to harm us in some way. In other words, they have an evil agenda or negative intent.
A better way of moving forward and making progress, be it as a global economy or even in our day-to-day interpersonal relationships, is to always assume positive intent.
In trying times, it is quite easy to fall into a mode of thinking where we look around and think everything is falling apart and nothing makes sense anymore. It might seem that everyone is out to get us and there is little hope.
If we take a step back, however, we can use tools like prayer or meditation to get into an objective state of mind and realize that everyone is acting according to their incentives and circumstances, and by and large, people are wired to be good to others around them, unless they suffer from some psychological problem that makes them act otherwise.
Once we assume positive intent, instead of defaulting to judgment and anger, we take on an inquisitive stance. We ask of the other party: “what are you trying to achieve by this behavior”.
Oftentimes, it’s even better to try to take a minute and take an educated guess on the other person’s needs and objectives. This is because many people don’t even know why they act the way they do. It’s often easier for a third party to understand someone’s behavior, which is why we have counselors, psychologists etc. to help us out.
When we start out from this position together with an inquisitive and non-judgmental attitude, it is guaranteed that we will at least be in a better psychological state ourselves. As a bonus, sometimes we can enter into a productive discussion that ends up changing the other person’s behavior or opinion, although this shouldn’t be our main goal.