Every behavior has a positive intention

by Dianne Lowther of Brilliant Minds (www.brilliantminds.co.uk)

It’s one of the NLP Presuppositions – ‘Every behaviour has a positive intention’ but what does it actually mean? At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s implying that everything anyone does is intended to do good. But that isn’t what it means. (And I’m sure that you can think of some behaviours that certainly don’t do good to others.) The NLP Presuppositions are filters. They’re ways of looking at the world that can create more constructive results if we choose to use them. You don’t have to believe that a presupposition is absolutely true in order to practice using it and get the benefit of it.

If you have a pet cat, you probably practice this presupposition regularly. Do you wander in to the kitchen in the morning to discover a half-eaten or half-alive mouse, bird or other small, helpless creature? And if you love your cat, do you shout at it and compain about the mess on the kitchen floor? If you’re like most of the cat-lovers I know you probably don’t do that. More than likely, you say something like, “Ah look, he’s brought me a present”.

If you do that, you’re looking beyond the behaviour to it’s purpose. Excellent! That’s what this presupposition is all about. Now, can you do the same when your colleague at work drops the equivalent of a dead mouse onto your desk and expects you to deal with it? Can you look beyond the irritating behaviour of people around you and focus on the purpose behind it?

I think that this presupposition is better if it’s phrased ‘Every behaviour is purposeful’. What people do is not random, it’s usually not even aimed at annoying you, but it does have a purpose. Granted, the purpose may be of value only to the person who behaviour is in question, but it has a purpose nonetheless. So next time someone around you does something that you consider to be inappropriate, foolish or annoying (or all three!) I challenge you to ask yourself, ‘What is the purpose of this behaviour?’

By asking yourself this question you’ll be achieving two things:

1. You may arrive at a better insight into the other person’s motivation and thinking.

2. You’ll distract yourself from being irritated and instead become curious, interested and maybe even more motivated to talk to the person about what they’re doing. This can only be an improvement, can’t it?

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