Qualifiers and Generous Assumptions


Photo By Jon Connell

Earlier this month, I met a track and field athlete who is training to compete in the Olympic Summer Games in Rio next summer. Many hours of training and many races stand between her and that goal, not the least of which are the “qualifiers” (how one even gets to the US Olympic Trials). Then come the Trials, with the qualifying rounds to make the team. For what it’s worth, her handshake and a brief run-down of her resume lead me to give her my endorsement. Like I said, for what it’s worth…


Where it may well be worth something (my endorsement that is) is in my community, in my world. Here’s what I mean.


I was meeting with clients not long ago over lunch and they asked me about a certain leader in our community. In my head I was trying to come up with something nice to say…


Why do I so often find it hard

to be generous

in my “endorsement” of others?


Do you wrestle with this? Back to my conversation with this client...What came out of my mouth, in the most generous interpretation of what I said, was something that probably amounted to a “qualified endorsement.”


In the end,

my qualified endorsement

of someone probably says

more about me than it does

about the one I’m “endorsing”...

What does that qualified endorsement say about me? Better yet, why do I feel I have to have a “but” or a “qualifier” around most everything I say? Once again, for what it’s worth, here’s my opinion. I would say most of us, at times, are bent toward literalism…I think you know what I mean. You said this. Therefore this is what you meant. End of story. One situation in which I bend toward being a literalist is in this area of endorsing (or not...) others.


If, in my mind, it isn’t

“the whole truth,

nothing but the truth,

so help me God,”

then in my literalist way,

I’m not telling “the truth.”


And that, my friends, is a problem...my problem...

And it’s a big problem. Said differently it’s Poppycock...For, who could ever give a 100% wholehearted endorsement of me?


We’re all a mixed bag, we humans...


What would happen if I only saw the good in others and communicated about them that way? Isn’t there a bit of Golden Rule in there somewhere?


Brene Brown, in her most recent book, “Rising Strong,” asks a very powerful question, which if applied, would revolutionize relationships and communication. Brown asks,


What is the most

generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions?


What if that question became my default mode? With clients, with the “difficult people” in my life (don’t write me off, you have difficult people in your life, too...).


What if we became a tribe – a clan – that attributes positive motives, that believes the best about the other person?


Do you have people around you

 who are full of grace, who when you walk away, you even say to yourself, “They see me as better than I am”???

Hang out with people like that! Who knows, you might become part of that tribe. Somehow if you did (if I did) you will and I will be glad we did!


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