I have a challenge for you…and it’ll stink a little. Take a day and be aware of every time you make an assumption. I’ve actually done this and it’s a pride swallowing siege…but in a good way.
Assumptions can be big, small, casual, formal, intentional, subconscious…you name it, they’re sneaky little buggers, but they often complicate seemingly simple interactions and can have huge impacts on culture and communication within society and systems.
I’m by no means an expert in resolving this issue, but what I can tell you is just taking one day to be super aware of it is powerful. It challenges you to think about things. I walked away from my assumption awareness day with these concepts:
- Think about your beliefs – I had to actually think about my personal code, beliefs, and expectations and how those things may or may not interact with the world. I do not anticipate ever completing this task.
- Asking more questions is a good thing– Not only is this just a powerful leadership tool, but it’s just the right way to do things, to learn and grow. I’ve caught myself many times wanting to “fix” without really understanding the different perspectives.
- Sharpen your observation skills – Looking at things beyond the borders can help you to avoid assumptions. I can think of hundreds of examples of this when working with students. Look around.
- Play your own devil’s advocate – Challenge your own decisions. Think about how others might think.
- When you’ve made an assumption, own it – This one’s hard. If you do make an assumption that comes back to pummel you, own it. Respond with genuine self-awareness and reflection.