Assumptions and expectations – 5 Steps to Ruin

I???ve learnt a painful lesson of late. The problem with talking a lot about that lesson (read rant and rave), and feeling all those emotions (read bitterness, anger, shock and dismay and not necessarily in that order) is that it makes you feel like you???re dealing with the issue/problem. The reality however, is quite the opposite. What I???ve come to realise recently, is merely talking about the issue, going over it chronologically with a fine toothed comb, articulating those emotions and the reasons behind it are not quite enough. While doing so brings some relief, what I need to be doing far more, is working on the solution. If I don???t spend enough time reviewing how and where this started to go belly up, then the chances are high indeed, that I may repeat these very mistakes in time to come. Worst still, I may be under the delusion that again, someone has ???done??? this to me when clearly, I have failed to take the learning I should have and put it to good use.

I would have to say, being on this side of the fence, is not entirely pleasant. But there???s something good that has come of this. This is a tie-in to my earlier post, Time heals all wounds, where I gave you a teaser on my adventure into the wild world of home d??cor and the perils of friendship. What I have learnt from the episode is best summarised in the five points below. Call it a lesson in making assumptions.

1. Assumptions really do make an ass of you ( and by that, I do mean me)
Every time we choose to assume as opposed to clarify, we ruin the chance to get better clarity on the issue. We choose assumptions because sometimes the issues are unclear, or the discussion is difficult. It may be that the relationship cannot withstand such scrutiny and is based on a level of assumption anyway. But which would you prefer ??? the hard-to-have discussion up front when things have yet to move or the emotional discussion later, when you???re well down the way on that well-travelled road? Trust me, up front is better. What I have come to realise about being honest and upfront is that it makes it easier for you. You know exactly what it is that you have to deal with. The problem with dishonesty – there are many shades of this that can apply, from the mild misleading or even the act of omission (to say what needs to be said) to the outright lie –  is that you always need one more lie to cover up the previous one.

2. Assumptions lead to more assumptions
I???ve learnt that when you start making one assumption, you inevitably begin making more of the same. And that is not a good thing. An assumption is something you take for granted, there is no test of its validity, there is no real basis for how you got to that place aside from the lovely and temporal comfort you get in persisting in your own delusion. When one goes down the road of assumptions, the line between what???s real and what is clearly not, becomes ever so faint as layer upon layer of falsity weave between facts and reality.  It leads to more error and failure.

3. Assumptions affect your state of mind and your approach
Assumptions will blind you as to what is before you. Whatever you see and how you think about an issue is undoubtedly, affected by your assumption. What you need to be doing at all steps along the way, is testing your assumption/s as best you can. This keeps you agile, alert and responsive.

4. Assumptions can lead to laziness and peril
The most important takeaway for me is that assumptions can lead to failure and loss. I don???t think that we can go through life without making assumptions. I am not talking about that. Clearly, its necessary just to live. However, the kind of assumptions I am referring to here are the big ones, the ones that go to the crux of the matter.  It is my belief that if you rely on an assumption, it leads to certain beliefs which you then rely heavily on. The things you would normally do, had you not relied on the assumption, such as checking things out for yourself, gaining more knowledge on the topic, asking the right sort of questions, help prevent a certain malaise which would put you at risk.

5. Find out for yourself. Arm yourself. Get the intel. Do the work.
I know, it does sound obvious. But hey, there???s a reason why they say that common sense is not very common indeed. The best way to arm yourself is to gain the knowledge you need, on your own. Do the hard work to acquaint yourself with the body of knowledge you seek to rely on someone else for. In the long run, you benefit from it. It will benefit you to realise that while you ???can??? pay for anything, including knowledge, expertise and know-how, that doesn???t always happen. It is not every person who shares all with you, regardless of receipt of financial benefit or not. For every one who has done the hard work of arming themselves with the knowledge, expertise and experience to get from where they were to where they stand now, there is someone who has done it the quick and easy way (and who may or may not not possess the body of knowledge one expects). Some people may find that there is gain and joy in sharing their life lessons for others to benefit. Others may feel that the lessons they have undergone have been at a price that does not justify their sharing all and sundry and that competition means one stands alone. Further, every person puts their own take on their experiences. Their perspective on it colours how it is presented. Doing the hard work yourself, in that sense, gives you a more accurate feel for where things are, as opposed to relying on how others have perceived it to be.

In the final analysis, I would have to argue that we must choose the assumptions we make very carefully. We should also make the distinction between assumption and emotional quotient/intelligence. EQ can sometimes be confused with assumption but EQ has depth, even if sometimes we are not really able to articulate it.

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About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

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