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Communication VS. Assumptions

One of my favorite quick reads is “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s 138 pages of pure, simple magic and reflecting on it often will gradually transform your thoughts, actions, results, and enjoyment of life. 

Daily I choose to focus on one of the four agreements and really consider how it plays out in my own life, and usually I end up with lots of reflections on how it plays out in both the lives and the businesses of my clients as well. 

Today, I chose to focus on “Don’t Make Assumptions”, this is a universal teaching that I have covered on many occasions with clients, and I’ve also had to remind myself of the same. 

Assumptions Breed Toxicity

Why do we assume vs. clarify? The answer is different depending on the individual. When digging into the nature of people and why they do the things they do…it’s easy to assume it’s black and white, good, or bad…right or wrong…but that’s simply another assumption, and we can’t unwind the problem of assuming without first breaking that paradigm. 

What’s funny is the very first thing that usually crosses my lips after hearing about a problem to which many thoughts are already formed about why that problem exists is “let’s first assume the other individual means no harm”. That’s funny irony, right? But it’s true. The first way to break the bad cycle of assumptions is to first assume that the other party has good intentions. I said what I said!

The reason for this first step is to reduce the reaction. As I said, it’s easy to make it good or bad, but it’s not that simple. People are complicated, so first assume good, then seek to understand why! These two first steps will instantly squelch the chances of this assumptive cycle becoming a breeding ground for toxicity that destroys relationships and cultures!

Why Do We Assume?

Assumptions happen because we view the world through our own lens. We are uniquely created and without fully understanding that one simple truth, we will ignorantly see our way as the only way. When we investigate the why, we must ask ourselves; How do I view conflict? What is my own communication style? What makes me feel secure? Once we come back to ourselves, we can begin to ask those same questions of others. 

If we fail to get clear on why things are happening, we leave ourselves open to the pain of assuming, and the stories we tell ourselves can be destructive for all. Rarely do we assume all the best things. 

My favorite moments with my clients come at these assumptive crossroads. Before we try to guess we assess the person. Is the person we are struggling with attempting to avoid conflict because it’s simply too uncomfortable? Maybe they are lacking enough clarity in information because they are someone who needs more to gain confidence? Perhaps they are unmotivated because they need healthy pressure and are feeling bored. 

Culture Impact

Once we break through these clarifying questions, we can begin to unravel the true reason and rebuild. Not only does this save relationships, strengthen leadership and build trust…it’s creating an organic culture that is self-sustaining! If you’re interested in learning more about the tools that help dissolve assumptions, click here and learn more!