“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once and a while, or the light won’t come in.”
Actor, Writer and Director
It’s one of the most dangerous things you can do in relationships – make assumptions. Assumptions can break up relationships, devastate your health, destroy your finances and wreak havoc in your life.
The dictionary defines the word assumption as being ‘the act of asserting a claim, taking something for granted, arrogance, assuming of power or possession of something and finally, assuming facts without proof.’
We do it all the time. We make assumptions about people, cultures and business – the world. We do this because we’re busy and it’s easy; we categorize and assume things to understand and act quickly. In short, we’re impatient beings. Jumping to conclusions or making assumptions causes us undue stress and drama.
First dates are filled with assumption and drama.
For example, a woman on her first date often makes assumptions about whether her date likes her based on his actions. If he doesn’t kiss her on the first date, a million negative thoughts enter her mind.
‘He doesn’t like me, he’s in a relationship, he’s arrogant, he’s…’ The list is endless and if that woman keeps thinking this way, she may sabotage the relationship before it even gets started.
Perhaps the man is a gentleman and was taught to go slow on the first date or maybe he thinks the woman isn’t ‘into him.’ They both won’t know unless they drop the assumption game and engage in true dialogue.
The assumption game can make or break a company.
For example, if your business requires that you cold call or follow up with prospects, you may feel stressed if you don’t have a strategy to handle the negative thoughts that enter your mind when you call.
If you spent your time ‘chasing’ prospects or playing ‘phone tag,’ you may feel frustrated and angry that people aren’t returning your calls. You may conjure up all kinds of drama about why ‘they don’t want you or that they’re not returning your call because they think you’re too expensive, not experienced enough’ and all the other negative thoughts that swirl in your head.Not long ago, I received a phone call from a client who was suffering from assumption drama. She told me her web designer hadn’t been returning her calls and was ‘ignoring her.’ I asked her what was happening and if she had proof.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Well, what proof do you have that she’s avoiding you? Did you have an argument? Did you tell her that her work is suspect?
“No,” she said.
“Well, is it possible that she’s having technical or family challenges and can’t reach you?”
“Why don’t you phone her and see what’s happening. She might have family, health or other issues keeping her from responding to you. Try not to make assumptions until you have all the facts.”
“Okay, good plan – I’ll do that.” She said.
A few weeks later, my client phoned me and she was happy. She told me she wasn’t stressed out and she dropped her assumptions and spoke with the web designer. This person had suffered a computer crash and it took a week to get ‘back on track.’What do you do if you recognize that you’re suffering from assumption drama? Simple – you take the five step strategy and apply it right away.
Here’s the formula to drop assumption drama and get back to enjoying life:
1. Recognize the problem: You can’t change what you can’t acknowledge. If you know you tend to assume things and jump to conclusions – change your thinking. Tell yourself that you need more facts before you take action.
2. Get all the facts: We’re all busy but that shouldn’t stop you from getting as many facts as you can about a situation so you can make informed decisions.
3. Double-check and ask questions: Even when you get the facts, it’s good to double-check and ask questions to clarify. Often, we’re impatient and react to the first facts we receive.
4. Communication: Once you have the facts, you’ve double-checked and asked questions, you’re free to communicate. If something bothers you, be honest. If you don’t like the way somebody did or said something, tell them tactfully. Good communication between you and another party will lead to constructive, not destructive actions.
5. Take a deep breath: Most of us react to situations. Take a few minutes to deep-breathe before taking action; this is often all the time you need to think clearly.
My client would’ve saved days of stress and drama by applying this formula. She would’ve recognized that she tends to jump to conclusions and needs to sit back and get all the facts and communicate before making decisions. She would’ve found out that her web designer had technical challenges and that nothing delayed was her fault.
It’s not easy, but if you can sit back without making assumptions and get the facts, you’ll save time, save your sanity, save your business and save your life.
Lisa Rickwood, BFA, CPCC, is a speaker, author, coach and creative VA who helps small business owners and entrepreneurs save two hours a day and minimize stress and overwhelm. To get your FREE Instant Stress Relief Kit visit: www.escapethepace.com If you need a VA with vision, visit: www.escapetheapce.com/virtual to email Lisa for your VA Kit.
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