Do you know what happens when you ASSUME?
You make an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”
At least you can assume that someone might say that in response to your assumption.
You assume wrong, buddy!
An assumption is a premise or belief we accept as true.
Some assumptions are anticipations based on prior experience.
Like, I have a friend who is habitually late. I can make the assumption when we make lunch plans that if I don’t tell her we’re meeting 15 minutes before the scheduled time, she will be at least 15 minutes late.
Who’s the ass in this scenario?
I can also make a fairly evidence-based assumption that if I buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, there’s a strong likelihood that rather than serve myself a scoop and put it back in the freezer, I’ll just polish off the whole pint.
And then complain about the size of my… ass.
There are other assumptions we make that become part of our narrative. These assumptions are based on broad or adamant statements such as:
“Things never work out for me.”
“Why bother applying for the job? I’m not going to hear back.”
“I have to prove myself at work, time and time again.”
“I’m the laziest person I know!”
These are the assumptions you should challenge.
So as not to make an ASS out of U (and ME)
How do we challenge those well-established assumptions? By asking better questions:
Is it true?
In the case of the friend who is habitually late or the quick-to-disappear pint of Ben & Jerry’s, perhaps so.
In the case of other statements such as “I’m the laziest person I know,” or “Things never work out for me,” does the evidence hold up?
Are there times you’re not lazy? Has there been an instance – ever – where things did work out for you?
And, if this is a factual statement, I have another question:
Who says it’s true?
Is this your belief or someone else’s? Are we assuming we know what they think or feel? Is it time to rewrite or retire an old or unhelpful assumption?
If we haven’t debunked the assumption and we have determined it is based on fact, the next question to ask is:
So what if it’s true that I eat the whole damn pint of the ice cream? What’s the impact? 10 pounds? OK, maybe portion-control is something I should think about.
Determine if the “so what?” is big enough or impactful enough or detrimental enough that it requires action.
Then you can ask the final question:
If we’ve challenged our assumption and found it’s no longer valid, why keep assuming it?
And if it does indeed prove to be true and we’re aware of the impact, what do we want to do about it now?
Is it important enough that we create a plan of action or change our behavior or consider alternative steps to take?
What do you want to happen next?
Don’t assume the story will change on its own. Doing so requires action.
Anything less makes an ASS out of U and ME.
I’m off now to have some ice cream.
What? None left? Geez… I really gotta start with the portion control.
Valerie Gordon is a long-time storyteller, a communications trainer, a humorist and a blogger. She speaks to audiences about how to harness the power of story to land the job, seal the deal, nail the presentation and communicate with impact and influence. Her first book, “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life,” is available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.