One of our great challenges as people is to not make assumptions about each other. (Yes, we all know the joke about assumptions.)
It’s hard work to understand people. Legitimately hard work. They are layered and complex. Consistently surprising. Predictably unpredictable. It’s much easier to assume.
If we’re going to get vulnerable here in Daily Discipline (we are), the reason we assume is because it’s quicker, easier, and makes us feel like we’re right. There’s nothing we like more than being right!
It’s easier to see a few things, connect a few dots, make seemingly logical conclusions, and trust your intelligence. Then it doesn’t feel like an assumption. It is, but it doesn’t feel like one.
All this might be fine if people truly tested their assumptions against real experiences, actual understanding, and objective reality. But that’s not what people do. Not nearly enough.
It’s a stretch to recommend that you make no assumptions at all. That’s not practical. It would make basic things like driving through an intersection inefficient.
Second, you can intentionally assume less. Challenge your assumptions patterns. Sometimes they’re rooted in ego. You think you know something based on your personal experience and intelligent assumptions. Let that go. Rather than assume, observe and let reality give you better feedback.
Third, you can ask questions, listen, and work hard to understand people. If you are willing to set your assumptions aside you will understand more about people than you currently do. That’s indisputable. You are 100% able to do this, but the willingness is entirely up to you. People close to you. People related to you. Strangers. Teammates. Friends.
The world doesn’t need more of my assumptions. It doesn’t need more of yours either. It doesn't need any of ours.
We improve ourselves through understanding. That’s how we improve relationships too. And that’s how we keep improving the world.
Everything is training for something. Do the work.
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Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.