“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” ~ Henry Winkler
Have you ever made an assumption, made a decision based on that assumption only to find out you were incorrect in your assumption? I’m pretty sure this has happened to all of us at some point if we are honest with ourselves.
Not all assumptions are wrong and I’m sure we’ve all had assumptions that were proven to be true or right, however in most circumstances the best thing to do is ask when you’re unsure.
For example, if you meet someone at a gathering and they don’t acknowledge or address you in the way you would have liked or at all, you may make an assumption that the person didn’t like you or wasn’t interested in getting to know you. This may be true, however, the person may be shy, may not have been feeling well, may have been there physically but mentally may have been somewhere else (maybe there was an issue occupying their mind), etc. In this circumstance you could reach out to the person and see if they are interested in getting together to meet, network, etc. You could ask a mutual friend/acquaintance about the person or ask for an introduction. If it’s important to you, make the effort to make the connection and/or find out the facts.
When you make assumptions in business you could be risking potential business opportunities and relationships. The sales person that makes an assumption that they know what the client wants risks the client will be disappointed or unhappy with the final product/service.
It is human nature to want to avoid conflict, but rather than making an assumption it’s best to confront the issue, ask the question(s), and get the facts so that you have real information to take action or base your decision on.
- Clarify – If you are giving directions or leading a meeting, make sure you clarify that those on the receiving end understand the instructions/information before moving on.
- Confirm – If you are receiving instructions/information, repeat them back in your own words so that you are clear you understood.
- Confront – If you have a feeling that something is wrong, someone is upset, etc., go ask in a professional, non-confrontational manner.
- Check – if you are concerned that the data you are compiling or receiving may be incorrect take a minute to verify the data, maybe just spot check a couple figures.
- Consider – Take a step back and ask yourself what may really be going on? If this were happening to someone else, what advice would you give them?
- Corroborate – Take a few minutes when wrapping up discussions to clarify that you are all on the same page.
- Consequence – Before acting on an assumption, consider the consequences of acting on an incorrect assumption.