I really loved this article by Sally of Already Pretty. Such a fantastic lesson to remember, and something I intend to incorporate into my daily interactions – especially seeing as I am wholly too sensitive as is. Couple that with assuming people have less than fantastic intentions and you have quite a double whammy of social isolation brewing.
The core of the idea is that human beings are not inherently malicious, conniving creatures and that most of our ideas and actions are well-intentioned. Even many of the ones that SEEM spiteful and rude are often driven by positively-fueled emotions like concern, compassion, and curiosity. Obviously, some people are just assholes. And some non-assholes occasionally make asshole moves. But to me, “assume positive intent” doesn’t mean, “Be a naive fool who trusts everyone to be filled with Mother Teresa-level compassion.” It means, “Try to examine sentiments and actions from multiple perspectives before allowing yourself to feel hurt or offended.”