Here’s the best way to interpret bad behavior.

Adam Albrecht
2 min readJun 9, 2024

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I am reading a fascinating book titled Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy.

The basic premise of the book, and the inspiration for the title, is that all of us, kids included, are good inside. Kinda like a Tootsie Pop. Furthermore, it is important to remember that when we make bad decisions or exhibit bad behavior, it is simply a reflection of a strong understandable desire, fear or discomfort that manifests itself in a negative way. (Which reminds me of my friend who got yelled at by a flight attendant when she got up from her airplane seat to run to the bathroom as the plane was taking off. But my friend was quite literally pooping her pants. So, yeah, you go to the bathroom girl.)

Good for parenting. But also good if you are a leader or a human.

The Good Inside assumption is a valuable reminder to us all. We know that we are good people. We know that our kids, coworkers, friends, and neighbors are good inside, with very rare Dahmerish exceptions. When you recognize this, you come to a much better understanding of what is really driving poor behavior.

Kennedy introduces the MGI, short for Most Generous Interpretation. ( Not Most Gassy Intestines.) If you believe that we are all good inside, it is valuable to consider the Most Generous Interpretation of any negative or problematic behavior. This means that when someone acts up, melts down, or their behavior is otherwise misaligned with norms and expectations, rather than simply cursing and condemning, we should generously interpret the very normal and understandable feelings that are underlying such behaviors.

This MGI enables you to demonstrate empathy and compassion. It helps you arrive at an understanding, and address the real and relatable issue the person is dealing with, not just the negative expression that leaks out. (Like my friend on that plane.)

Key Takeaway

You make the world a better place when you assume people are good inside, even when they do bad things. The best thing we can do for each other is consider the Most Generous Interpretation of each other’s words and actions. It enables us to understand, address and resolve negative behavioral challenges in the most positive way. And that’s a win for everyone.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Originally published at http://adamalbrecht.blog on June 9, 2024.

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Adam Albrecht

I am a growth-minded entrepreneur and author of the book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I share what I'm learning on my journey. And I try to make it funny.