Assume Nothing

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Isaac Asimov

On the Same PageJargon, assumptions, guessing — these all get in the way of people understanding each other. Trying to tell someone something in a situation where their comprehension is important? Try using fresh eyes when looking at the facts. Will something make sense to someone who hasn’t been on the same journey as you? Honestly, the answer is probably not.

This doesn’t mean that we should all call it a day and walk away. Assumptions, left to their own devices, are dangerous. They can stir up strife, harm reputations, and generally make everyone look bad; the worst part is that all of that can be avoided. Focusing communications around a shared language, while providing some background and explanations is a smart place to start to avoid all that potential nastiness.

different-thinkingCommunicating can be challenging enough, particularly when people aren’t starting with the same set of facts or building blocks. You might think that you are on the same page as everyone else, but reality may prove otherwise. Taking the time to make sure that everyone has a good level of mutual understanding can also be far more productive and have far better results – like eliminating needless re-work which can be frustrating, not to mention very costly.

Here is where I say that rejecting assumptions, givens and other general ‘placeholders’ for what you (expert or not) know gives you the opportunity to learn and improve not just yourself, but the people you interact with.

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