How do you stop making assumptions about others?
Last week, I was in Cincinnati for the annual Sherpa Coaching Conference as part of my re-certification. The group was large enough and the schedule full enough that it was impossible to connect with everyone. I only knew a few people.
After the conference, I grabbed a bite to eat at the airport with a coaching friend from Dallas. As we finished our meal, another coach entered the restaurant. The past few days I observed this coach but an assumption kept me from connecting…until that moment. During that “last chance to connect conversation” I discovered a great person. Her story is amazing.
As I reflected on the incident, I felt the affect of making assumptions. How about you, do ever make assumptions?
How do assumptions get us in trouble?
Assumptions are made when you think you know something and accept it as true without verifying it. Assumptions show up when we take something for granted without proof.
The primary characteristic of an assumption is this lack of verification or proof.
What is the affect of making an assumption?
- Deception – you believe something to be true that is not
- Bondage – you lose an opportunity to make a decision based on truth
On the other hand, how does judgment help us make wise decisions?
Judgment has to do with forming an opinion after consideration, observation, or the pursuit of truth. This leadership ability to form a sound opinion and make sound decisions is significantly different than making assumptions.
We know that judgment can refer to a decision handed down by a court of law or a judge. In this case, a decision is reached after considerable examination of the facts.
What is the affect of exercising judgment?
- Discernment – you form a sound opinion and make better decisions
- Freedom – you are able to act and live intentionally, less reactive
What does it take to exercise judgment over making assumptions?
You must create space. By that I mean you must make time to pursue the truth of The Story. Making assumptions is a limiting behavior driven by first impressions, jumping to conclusions, and a closed thought process. Exercising judgment is a success oriented behavior driven by self-awareness, reflection, and open mindedness.
What is the one thing that will help you manage the assumption trap?
Ask questions. My coaching mantra is this: “Ask more, Tell less, Teach when you can.” Ask open-ended questions; challenge your assumption by asking:
- Why do I believe this?
- How do I know this to be true?
- What am I basing my conclusion on?
- How are my filters impacting my ability to see this person? Situation?
The business of life is people. A lot of people problems and lost opportunities are tied to this limiting behavior of making assumptions.
Slow it down. Check your thinking. Ask questions.
The reward is worth the effort.
If it had not been for my “second chance” I would have lost the opportunity to connect with another person. By the way, my peer gave me feedback about my conference presentation that was both affirming and encouraging.
To think, I almost lost that gift because of a limiting behavior: making an assumption.
What assumptions do you make about others? What is that costing you?