A few weeks ago, I talked about the Immanuel Spirit, the set of guidelines we all try to live and work by here at Immanuel. Today, I want to take a deeper dive into one of these guidelines. It’s the first on the list, and one of the most challenging to abide by: “Embrace and value our differences, while assuming positive intentions.”
There’s a lot packed in to these two clauses. In the first one, we agree not only recognize the differences between ourselves and others but also to embrace and value them. It can be very difficult to genuinely embrace the differences between ourselves and others; after all, most of us approach things the way we do because those ways make sense to us. When someone approaches something from a different angle, it’s easy to see their way as wrong. When we embrace and value our differences, however, we recognize that it can sometimes be helpful to take into account multiple points of view.
The second part of this statement can be even more difficult to live by. When we “assume positive intentions,” we approach interactions with the assumption that the other person wants a good outcome, just as we do. When we disagree with the people around us, we do our best to assume that they (like us) want the best for the team, the residents, and the organization.
When we feel passionately about our work, it can be hard to adhere to this guideline (because most of us have good reasons for how we approach things!), but when we do, our work lives are generally more pleasant and productive. Most of the time people genuinely are coming from a positive place, so even when we at first don’t agree, we can trust that we all have the same end goals. The residents really do come first here at Immanuel.
When we embrace and value our differences while assuming positive attentions, we find compromise solutions when we disagree about the best way to approach a problem. We also have better working relationships because we’re not focused on being right all the time. It’s often hard to do, but it’s almost always worth it!