ASS•U•ME

Someone says or does something. Why? What’s the goal or desire? What is wanted? If it’s someone or something we care about, or if it impacts us in some way, we try to assign a purpose to it — a narrative about why.

That narrative comes from us. We juxtapose our own sensibilities, beliefs, and fears on to the circumstances and our characterization of the person(s) involved and derive a purpose behind what was said or done. When we interact with the person with those assumptions in place we risk damaging the relationship, or at least make it more difficult to navigate productively. We also rob ourselves of the truth in many cases.

Here is the trick: DON’T ASSUME. Stop and think for a moment. Unless you’re at least 99% positive about what’s behind a person’s actions resist the temptation to take that shortcut. IF you care, or if you at least want to create the appearance of caring, ASK.

Seek first to understand. Just ask people why they said or did it. Give them a chance to explain. Even if you have an assumption, and you’re ‘sure’ you’re right, ask anyway. You don’t have to believe them or take it all at face value, but you might just learn something you can take into consideration.

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