We make assumptions when we don’t fully understand a situation.
It is a natural reaction to immediately fill in any missing information by making up our own story.
We do this because we like to try to make sense of people and situations.
The problem with this is that most of the time our story is incorrect which causes all kinds of complications.
The fact is, we don’t know what the truth is unless we ask.
As much as we would like to think we know what others are thinking, we simply can’t read minds.
Sometimes we think we have the super power to know the reasons why people do the things they do (without asking them) which is pretty presumptuous.
Remember, not everyone sees the world the same way you do (shocker, I know, but it is easy to forget).
Need another reason to stop making assumptions? Try turning it around, do you believe that other people can read your mind?
Would you rather that someone makes up a story (an assumption) about what you are thinking and feeling? Or, would you prefer if they ask you?
When you ask instead of assume, you may not always get an answer you like or expect. Still, asking is much better than making up your own story because then you are in the position to make an informed next step.
Asking questions seems like an easy thing to do so why don’t we do it more often?
Situations When Assumptions Block You
– You want to contact a client to find out why they haven’t responded to an e-mail
– You’d like to ask a partner if they are satisfied with the way you work together
– You wish to ask a colleague if they still plan to make that introduction for you that they promised
Here’s an example. Let’s say you see a prospective client at a networking event, he sees you too but when you try to approach him for a chat he leaves abruptly. That is all that happened, you don’t know why he had to leave and yet your mind starts making up a story, an assumption.
You might think he doesn’t like you or that he isn’t interested in your business. That may or may not be true but why bother thinking negative thoughts when you don’t really know the reason he left.
If you want to know the reason, ask. You may find out that he just went outside to put money in a parking meter, that he had a family emergency, or something else which was not related to you at all.
So how do you do it? When asking questions, do so in a non-judgmental way with the intention to discover the truth. Stick to the facts and use a neutral tone when asking questions verbally.
If you’re still not convinced, here are seven reasons why you, and your business, may be suffering because of assumptions.
7 Ways Assumptions Are Bad for Business
1. Assumptions cause unnecessary stress
2. Assumptions waste time and energy
3. Assumptions misunderstandings
4. Assumptions cause you to miss out on great opportunities
5. Assumptions lower your confidence and create self-doubt
6. Assumptions lead you to offer the wrong products and services
7. Assumptions create obstacles that don’t exist
Hopefully it is clear why assumptions are not good for your business and you are willing to stop making them. Making assumptions isn’t good for any relationship which means you can apply this to your personal life as well. After all, you do have a life outside of your business right?
My challenge to you is to start paying attention to your thoughts and become aware of when you are making assumptions and then get into action and ask the right questions.
Asking questions is simple, and not always easy. Find the courage to do what may feel difficult and just ask. Ending assumptions is like any skill, it takes practice. The more you do it the easier it will become.
If you liked this article you may want to check out this video about how to stop taking things personally (which is strongly connected to making assumptions).
© Stephanie Ward
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create meaningful and prosperous businesses. Grab your FREE copy of the special report ‘7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at: https://www.fireflycoaching.com.
Share your thoughts on making assumptions in the comments section below.
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I need to wallpaper my room with this post. This is such a problem and challenge for me. I always think the worst, even when I’m trying not to! Thank you for reminder. I especially like that this post is clear and logical – no wiggle room for those of us who want to stay in our comfort zones! Good point on accidentally offering the wrong product/service, I hadn’t considered that.
Oh, and I meant to add, this made me laugh at myself:
“Would you rather that someone makes up a story (an assumption) about what you are thinking and feeling? Or, would you prefer if they ask you?”
because no, I wouldn’t, I’d far prefer they asked me, so why am I being ridiculous and making assumptions about others?
Thank you for sharing, Zee. The first step to making any change is awareness so you’re on the right track. The more you practice, the easier it will get. I promise. And I can highly recommend the book, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, one of which is not to make assumptions: http://www.amazon.com/The-Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal/dp/1878424319.
It’s funny how clear things seem when we look at it from our own perspective. ;0