Assume Nothing

Approximate Reading Time: 1 minute, 4 seconds

One of my passions is to close the gap between how people are managed with how they need and want to be managed. In service to this passion, I show leaders how to stimulate people’s thinking, create more buy-in for goals, and how to increase engagement with their team members. In addition, I’m passionate about sharing numerous communication strategies that create more cohesive relationships.

Leadership is all about relationships. Relationships are built one conversation at a time. Every time we interact with someone, we have the potential to strengthen or weaken that relationship.

How many assumptions do you make in a day? Hundreds? Thousands? A lot of them….

Time is wasted in organizations trying to interpret email messages and other communications. Erroneous interpretations can cause us to distance ourselves from others, weakening relationships. But if we never check out our assumptions, we will never know if our interpretations are correct-

Imagine you are leading a budget meeting about cost cutting measures. Things are heating up, there is some tension in the air. Let’s say your colleague gets up and leaves the meeting in the middle of your presentation. You may assume this co-worker disagrees with your suggestions or is angry. Or perhaps he or she just needs to use the restroom!

The only way to know for certain is to check out your assumption:

  1. Ask Permission: I’d like to discuss something with you, is now a good time?
  2. Describe the behavior: “Yesterday, I noticed you left the meeting in the middle of my presentation. . .”
  3. State your Assumption: “I assumed you were upset with what I had said…
  4. Ask an open-ended question: “Is this true? What was your experience?”
  5. Stop talking, listen and stay curious.

After this chat, you can go back to focusing on more positive thoughts and productive action. Our assumptions are often wrong. If it turns out you were correct and your co-worker was upset, this is a great opportunity to find out more information about why this was the case. Stay curious and learn all you can about his or her experience of the meeting. This can lead to a lively, open, insightful discussion and more clarity for both parties.

This simple tool when used repeatedly (at home and work) clears the air and keeps our communications with others assumption-free and as “clean” as possible.

Remember to always approach others with positive intention, (assume the best) be curious and check it out! check it out!

Contact me for more information about effective communication workshops.

To learn about Leading for Engagement.

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