One of the things that can cause real problems in the area of communication, and even our decisions, is this thing called assumption. When we make an assumption, we jump to form a conclusion about someone or something without solid evidence or proof. This is easy to do because we all have had life experiences that have colored our perception of things. All it takes is for us to get into a similar situation and we immediately size up the situation or person. Sometimes our assumptions are accurate and other times they are way off base and can get us into real trouble.
After all, things are not always what they appear to be and here are some examples:
1. We see a disheveled person and we assume they are homeless or a drunkard.
2. We see a person without a wedding ring on and assume they are single or divorced.
3. People from the North are unfriendly.
4. All Southerners lack intelligence.
The best thing we could do for ourselves is to step back and ask ourselves some questions.
Here are seven great questions to improve your communication:
1. Before you leap to make a snap decision, step back, take a breath, and ask yourself. What are my assumptions here?
2. Am I judging the situation or person by what the person or situation looks like?
3. Am I mind reading? Do I believe I know exactly what the other person thinks and finish their sentences.
4. Do I assume people should know what I want and need?
5. Do I believe history will always repeat itself?
6. What might the other person be thinking, feeling, and needing at this moment?
7. Am I projecting my own issues or baggage from my past on this situation or person?
Communication and even intimate relationships have been destroyed because of assumptions. People have lost and quit jobs because of assumptions. The next time you are in the middle of a communication struggle stop and ask yourself – “What are my assumptions here?” “Are my assumptions based on fact or presuppositions?” “Can I put myself in the other person’s shoes and consider what they might feel or need in the situation?”
Doing a little introspection will cause you to make less snap judgments, improve your communication, and definitely open up your life to experiences, people, and situations you may have simply dismissed before.