Issue 8 of Connecting Conversations
We all know the saying “assume makes an ASS out of U and ME” and “never assume anything” yet we still regularly make assumptions.
Assumptions lead to misunderstandings and cause conflict.
An assumption is anything we take for granted, whether or not it is actually true. Our society is built on assumptions. Sometimes, our beliefs lead us to make assumptions.
Imagine you see a young man dressed casually, standing beside a really expensive car. If you had the belief that wealthy people drive expensive cars, your assumption might be, This kid is really wealthy. But if the person walking next to you had the belief that hard work affords you the money to buy expensive things, he might assume, This kid is a really hard-worker. Of course, neither may actually be true about this young man yet you will continue to believe your assumption to be true.
The same can happen in conversations.
When someone says something, we naturally begin to understand what was said from our perspective, not theirs.
They are speaking their truth and we are hearing their thoughts from a place of our truth. These may not be the same and can lead to missed opportunities, misunderstandings and conflict.
Even simple things like “Where are my keys?” “They are on the table” can lead to conflict when one person assumes “the table” is the dinning table and the other person assumes “the table” is a small side table by the front door. Each believes their table to be the truth and rather than get curious and test their assumptions with “what table?” and argument will ensue.
One thing we know to be true, it doesn’t matter what we assume to be a reality; we are rarely correct. When we take the time to test our assumptions, we always learn something that reshapes our thoughts and even our beliefs in a way that helps us become curious and learn. The easiest, and only way, to test an assumption and truly understand what is meant is to ask open curious questions – questions that begin with who, what, where, when and how.
We all make assumptions every single day. Today, when you're making a general statement, rather than make an assumption, test it! Ask a curious, open question to see what was really meant.
Bonus tip: If you get stuck thinking of an open question, tell me more is a great way to keep learning and staying open.
Up Next: Conflict-free conversations
Kathy & Kirsten
Institute Of Curiosity