As a self-proclaimed creative data geek, I am intrigued by how making assumptions can really twist communication between two people. How we interpret what another says — in other words, what we make it mean — can take us down a path that is very far removed from truth. A simple example: a friend says, “I don’t like black dogs.” What I think she means: “Black dogs are bad.”
One of the dictionary.com definitions of assumptions states: “something taken for granted; a supposition… Synonyms: presupposition; hypothesis, conjecture, guess, postulate, theory.”
So think about that for a minute. We often are guessing or hypothesizing about what someone means when they speak to us.
The good news is that it only takes a slight shift in our consciousness to begin to verify the assumptions we make are correct (or not). We can do this by asking clarifying questions. In other words, don’t take what people say at face value. Investigate that you understand what they are saying by paraphrasing or asking for clarification to be sure you really get what they are trying to communicate.
This week, challenge yourself to get the facts right by first asking, what did I make that mean? Strive for better, easier relationships by checking your assumptions: ask for clarification if you don’t think you fully understand what someone is saying or what they mean. Watch what happens.