If you’re like literally anybody in the world, you have a tendency to take a situation and make an assumption about it.
And if you’re like me, those assumptions are often wrong.
It’s easy to fall into this habit because we all want things to be simple and straightforward. We don’t want any gray areas when it comes down to communicating with one another or figuring out how best to solve problems together as a team.
But the truth is: there usually is some degree of ambiguity in every conversation that requires us to ask questions rather than assume we know what others think based on their tone or body language.
Your assumption could be off
Assumptions are not facts. They’re guesses, hunches, and opinions—not always true, and certainly not always helpful.
As humans, we love to make assumptions about the world around us, but sometimes they can lead to bad decisions or poor relationships with others.
Consider this statement: “When I see a squirrel in my backyard it means spring is coming.” This assumption may be comforting at first glance because it gives us hope for warmer weather ahead. But what if the squirrel only comes out in the springtime because he’s looking for food? Then this assumption would lead you astray and cause you frustration! You don’t want your assumptions getting in your way of making good decisions; instead, they should serve as tools that help guide those decisions along the right path towards success and happiness.
As such, it’s important that we learn how our brains form these unconscious mental shortcuts so we can stop them from causing harm when necessary—and most importantly take control over when these thinking patterns are useful by finding ways where they might actually benefit us rather than hurt us.
You’re assuming you know what others think
Assumptions are based on what you think, not what they think.
You have no idea what others are thinking in a given situation. You can ask them, but that would require you to admit your assumption was wrong. That’s awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Instead of guessing at another person’s thoughts, try asking them directly instead. To help with this process:
- Ask open-ended questions like “What do you think?” or “What is your opinion?” This will give the other person room to express themselves rather than being forced into a defensive position by yes/no questions (e.g., “Do you agree with me?”). The answer may also be non-verbal (i.e., gestures or facial expressions).
- Follow up by listening intently as they answer your question(s). Don’t interrupt until it’s clear that both parties understand each other correctly without any misunderstandings or miscommunication at all!
You’re not asking questions
When you’re in a situation that’s causing stress, confusion, or frustration and you don’t know what to do, ask questions!
This is one of the most important things you can do when you’re feeling stuck. Asking good questions will help you get to the bottom of an issue and lead to solutions. If all goes well, it’ll also take your life from stagnant to progressing forward again!
Learning to ask questions is the key to becoming a better communicator and problem solver.
Asking questions can help you:
- get to the root of the problem (or issue, or conflict) and understand what’s really going on behind the scenes;
- identify what you need in order for your needs and expectations to be met; and
- help you arrive at solutions that are win-win for both parties involved.
Making an assumption is partially making an excuse
You’re not using your time optimally, you’re not getting the results you want, and you aren’t learning as much as you could. This affects how effective you are as a leader, follower, and friend.
Assumptions limit your thinking and creativity
Assumptions limit quite a few things like…
…thinking, creativity, and problem-solving ability;
…ability to communicate effectively with others;
…ability to be a leader or manager in an organization or team; or
…the creation of great companies/organizations where all people are heard, valued, and respected equally!
A great book to learn about how making assumptions can affect you is the Four Agreements! Have you read the assumptions chapter?
By becoming more curious about the world around you, you can put yourself in the best position possible to solve problems, identify opportunities and make connections with other people.
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