Work goes more smoothly when we remember it is just business.
Way too much time and energy is diverted if someone chooses to take something personally, time and energy that needs to be applied to the actual work to be done.
The concept of “presumption of merit” is that most of us have good intentions and are doing the best we know how from the perspective of the world as we see it. If we really knew how to do better, we would. Taking anything personally is ineffective, just a waste of time and energy and you are too smart for that, right?
“If you respond to every communication as if its intent was to move the business forward, you avoid taking anything personally. Even being called an idiot—clearly a personal attack—should only be responded to by considering how it benefits the dialog at hand. If you can’t fathom how a given comment is useful to the business, instead of responding to the personal attack you might perceive, ask for clarification about how it does help the situation. If someone does call you an idiot, according to the presumption of merit, your only legitimate response is to explain that you don’t understand how that comment is productive, and ask for help in understanding it. But, you must not do this with ‘attitude,’ non-verbal communication is still non-productive. If you only respond to the business issue, it causes you to pause just enough to not respond to a possibly personal attack with personal attack.” — Unknown