Ever heard the saying that assume means that you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”? I had the opportunity to witness a conversation between two individuals the other day that was so wrought with assumptions and inferences that it led to a full-blown argument even though both involved individuals were actually on the same page. Confounding, right?
An assumption is something one considers to be true without verifying it, while an inference is when one draws a conclusion about things they don’t know based on things they do know. Here’s where we get in trouble with assumptions and inferences – we are making statements about the other’s behavior (in our thoughts) without testing their validity. Essentially we are all statements and no questions.
Back to the conversation turned argument that I observed recently – it was fascinating to watch how quickly it took a downward spiral. One individual made an assumption about the other’s behavior and said something, the other inferred they meant something else, then off they went down the rabbit hole. After a few exchanges it became heated, and I called a timeout, asking them to check their assumptions with each other. Lo and behold, they were arguing over nothing. Absolutely nothing.
What is this really all about? We judge ourselves based on our intention and others on their behaviors – which means that we are making A LOT of assumptions in the process.
Your call to action today is to become keenly aware of the assumptions and inferences you make and check them by asking the other person a question – a simple question folks! I guarantee you will have ample opportunities because we constantly do this. I’ll even help you out here. Notice your assumption and then ask the other person “Am I right in thinking… [insert your assumption here]?”