As I sat down to begin my schoolwork for the evening, I thought back to the conversations I had during the week. Those interactions with my husband, my children, my classmates, and my friends seemed to be stuck in the forefront of my mind. Despite my exhaustion and because of time constraints, I opened my organizational behavior textbook to the first chapter. There in front of me was the story of the CEO and Chairman of Pepsi Co., Indra Nooyi. Normally I would simply read the material and quickly continue onto the written assignment in order to complete my work as quickly as possible. This time, however, the story was different. Indra Nooyi stated that her father taught her to “assume positive intent.” That phrase echoed in my mind as I continued and finished my assignment.
The next day, “assume positive intent” remained in my mind until I truly grasped the meaning. Not the meaning in regards to working with others, though that aspect is important, but the meaning that God wanted me to learn. I am hasty to believe a comment or an action (or inaction) is a direct insult to my person, intellect or my whole being. This particular aspect of me is, unfortunately,even more prevalent in the context of my marriage. A roll of the eyes, a sign, a comment under the breathe, the nonresponse or any other action that could possibly be conceived as negative…all of these trigger a defensive and hurt response in me.
Over the past couple of years, I have watched and listened to Rebecca and Cherie teach. For some reason certain points such as accept the fault that is yours, open communication and positive approaches to conflict resolution in marriage have struck me to the core. It was at the moment that I read the words “assume positive intent” that I realized the very thing that I need to change about myself. As I mentioned, small nonverbal and sometimes verbal responses trigger my negative response but what if I were to assume positive intent instead?
It is likely that instead of me saying why is he acting this way or what is wrong with him, which encourages a negative response I can think to myself what are his actions saying (Is he upset about work? Tired? Are the kids being too loud and he needs to relax? Am I expecting so much from him that he is overwhelmed?). In this manner I am able to better control my response and evaluate the situation before it gets out of control. I am assuming his response is positive in making me aware of the situation. In changing my perspective, by assuming positive intent and reacting in positive manner, he too will react positively. Therefore, communication is opened and free of a defensive air leaving room for growth and encouragement.
Rita Metcalf married her high school sweetheart, Brandon, more than nine years ago. Together they have made every effort to avoid being another young, military couple facing divorce. Through successfully meeting these challenges, Rita has grown to know more about life, sacrifice and love but most importantly, Jesus’ love for her and her family. The Metcalfs have been blessed with three beautiful children, Kiera (6), Adam (5) and Evan (2). While Brandon fulfills his Marine Corps duties, Rita is a homeschool mom who strives to improve the life of her children and anyone who may cross their path.
Rita is a 2009 graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Bachelors of Science in Business Management and is a Pennsylvania State University graduate student studying Public Administration. Currently, Rita is the Administrative Assistant to the co-founders of The Imperfect Wives and is launching a new local Imperfect Wives group at Camp Pendleton in southern California.