Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating

For instrumental music while reading, choose: hi-fi (broadband) or low-fi.

We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t ask.

We don’t ask because we act as if we already know. Or, we are insecure and don’t want to appear stupid.

So we make an assumption.

Then we forget it is merely something we made up because we don’t know the truth, and we behave as if it’s a fact.

If the other people in your life have a similar relationship with assumptions, drama abounds. Everyone acts as if their actions and reactions are based on reality when in fact, so many personal interactions are based on arbitrary fabrications, wishful thinking and fantasy.

We have a name for this problem-prone, sloppy thinking: assumptions.

Why do we do it? Mental laziness. With enough information, assumptions are unnecessary. When we know the real facts, we don’t have to make them up.

How do we learn the facts? Ask questions.

“He who fails to question is asking for trouble.” – Paul Aubuchon

If you don’t know, ask. It sounds so easy . . . so obvious. Even though it’s common sense, when you look around at human interaction, it must be more difficult than it sounds. Apparently, there is something easier than asking questions. Not better, but easier. It must be easier to forget the questions and make assumptions instead.

“A wise man’s question contains half the answer.” – Solomon Ibn Gabirol

As an example, let’s pretend I am your spouse. We have known each other a long time. Therefore, you should know what I am thinking and feeling due to mere proximity, right? So, I assume you know what I want.

You think it should be obvious to me what you are thinking and feeling. After all these years, that should be a no-brainer. So, you assume I know what you want.

You never ask. I never ask. We both just assume we know what is important to the other and act as if it’s a fact. Our assumptions must be right, so we feel like we must defend them. As a result, drama occurs.

The interpersonal drama becomes emotional, uncomfortable and possibly miserable – all because of what? Assumptions.

We don’t bother to ask. So we assume. We don’t bother to listen. So we assume. We think it’s too much trouble to engage in meaningful conversation. We choose to not communicate. Instead we assume. That’s the real source of trouble. Look what happens when we ass-u-me . . . it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

Communicate Instead

Look how much easier this is . . .

“What do you want?” (Listen . . . and hear.) Okay, your turn. “What do you want?” (Listen . . . and hear.) No assumptions are necessary because the facts are known.

Drama Spiraling Out of Control

Before we learn how to drop the drama intentionally . . . deliberately . . . consciously – it goes something like this: I don’t know the truth about what you want or how you feel. For whatever reason, I don’t ask for clarification. Maybe I’m too insecure to ask, or maybe I don’t want to appear stupid, or maybe I’m just too lazy to bother instigating a conversation to find out. So, I make an assumption.

“One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese Proverb

Since I feel like I always need to be right about everything, I will defend my position at all costs. (By now, I may have even forgotten that I made it all up. What’s more important — in the shadows of my mind — is that I “save face” by being “right.”)

This drive to be right grows into a consuming focus. I’m quick to gossip about it, and if you want to argue about it, I’m ready any time.

I’m right and you’re wrong. I need to prove why you are wrong. Don’t even bother trying to state your own case because I will interrupt you anyway because what I have to say is more important. You are wrong and I am right. You’ll see. And I will keep hammering away at it until you finally give up and admit that I am right and you are wrong. (Again!)

This entire scenario is based upon fantasy — something just dreamed up in the imagination. Pure ego is out of control. With no objectivity, and no input from broader perspective, an unobserved mind has spiraled out of control and fabricated this elaborate spider web of drama and emotional conflict. This whole mess has grown from one tiny seed. The seed is assumption . . . and it is a destroyer.

It has the power to drive people apart. It can snap friendships and dissolve marriages.

“But seeing little in the dark,
We resort to desperate measures.
Groping blind, we treasure our trash,
And then, we trash our treasures . . . we trash our treasures.”
- from the song, “Trash Our Treasures” by Tupelo Kenyon

Assumptions Destroy – Communication Builds

“What do you want?” (Listen . . . hear.)
Okay, your turn.
“What do you want?” (Listen . . . hear . . . and care enough to understand.)

“It’s hard for me to answer a question from someone who really doesn’t care about the answer.” – Charles Grodin

Even when communicating, be aware of the tendency to make assumptions. When someone is vague, you might make an assumption about what they really mean. Don’t do it. Instead, ask for clarification.

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

If they leave something out, you might make an assumption about why they didn’t tell you. Then another assumption comes along to fill in the gap about why they didn’t want you to know. Before long, this daisy-chained string of assumptions has convinced you that they don’t trust you and blah, blah, blah . . . on and on it goes, spiraling out of control.

Don’t do it. Notice the tendency to assume, and nip it in the bud. Don’t let it grow into drama. Instead, ask for clarification.

“Your baby’s got a different way . . . Different than you,
And nothin’ looks exactly the same from another point of view.
But if somebody’s right and somebody’s wrong . . . it strains the connection,
Maybe nobody’s wrong, but together you’re right . . . In different directions.

What would love do now?
Whenever you don’t know what to do . . . and don’t know how,
What would love do . . . What would love do . . . What would love do now?”
- from the song, “What Would Love Do Now” by Tupelo Kenyon

Questions Are Good

Nobody is going to fault you for asking questions. You have the right to ask any question. Everyone else has that right too. And, we all have the right to choose whether or not to answer any question. So ask. Get to the bottom of it. Find out. Then assumptions are unnecessary.

It’s a rare question that gets the silent treatment. Even in the silence between two people, there is an opportunity for communication, but you must be willing to listen deeply.

“To communicate through silence is a link between the thoughts of man.” – Marcel Marceau (b. 1923) – French mime artist

Speak Up

It works the same way with letting your desires be known. Let people know what you want. Tell them. Be specific. Be clear. Be direct. They may say, “yes.” They may say, “no.” Either way, it’s better than making assumptions and creating drama.

If you make your desires known, clearly and directly, someone may be in a position to help you achieve it. It may be easy for them. It may give them joy to help you manifest your desires. Who are you to deny them their joy of giving? What do you want? Tell them. Remember: Don’t ask . . . don’t get!

Drop the Drama Deliberately

Imagine what your life will be like when you take this to heart and get good at it. You make no assumptions. You ask for what you want. You communicate. You do not contribute to drama. Instead, by conscious communication, the emotional drama in your life begins to evaporate naturally until it’s completely gone.

You know what you want. You ask for it. You expect it and are grateful for it . . . even before it manifests . . . and it’s yours.

“All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. Take a moment to consider the truth of this statement. The whole world of control between humans is about making assumptions and taking things personally. Our whole dream of hell is based on that.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, from the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Clear Communication is Contagious

By your example, your family notices the benefits of communicating instead of making assumptions. They begin to catch on too. As a result, drama diminishes. It is replaced with clarity, integrity and a healthy self-images.

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible–the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nuturing family.” – Virginia Satir

The people at work may eventually recognize this common sense approach and replace assumptions with communication. They begin to experiment with it too. The drama dissipates.

The people at church may begin to get the hang of it too and it spreads from congregation to congregation . . . community to community . . . state to state . . . country to country.

Global Ramifications of Communicating Better Instead of Assuming

Imagine world leaders communicating better instead of making blind assumptions about one another. Hold this image in your mind and send the light of your understanding into the dark corners of the earth.

For centuries, assumptions have ruled. As a result, our history is a string of misunderstandings, quarrels, and skirmishes escalating into World Wars.

The drama surrounding assumptions drives wedges between superpowers, governments, religions, as well as individuals. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to celebrate our differences instead of using them as excuses to fight. Variety is good. Diversity is inspiring. If any two of us were exactly the same, one of us would be extraneous. And our world would be boring.

“Your neighbors have a different way, they have their own law and order,
And governments hardly ever agree,
. . . and say it’s better this side of the border.
And they extend that line through people too,
. . . even though we can feel the connection,
Maybe feelings are right, and borders are wrong, in every direction.

What would love do now?
Whenever you don’t know what to do . . . and don’t know how,
What would love do . . . What would love do . . . What would love do now?”
- from the song, “What Would Love Do Now” by Tupelo Kenyon

I choose to believe we are finally maturing as a race. We are becoming smart enough, experienced enough and well-informed enough to recognize the shortcomings of our chosen methods of the past. Assumptions work against us. We can choose to do better now.

We can see the spiraling drama unfolding from the assumptions of the past. We can choose to replace those troublesome assumptions with questions, conversation, genuine interest, compassion, empathy and understanding.

We can gain more control over any potentially problematic situation by asking for clarification. Instead of assuming anything, we can choose to add more light to the darkness by asking questions.

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” – Eugène Ionesco (b. 1912)

When the facts are known, it would never occur to us to assume. When we know the truth, assumptions are forever unnecessary.

It all begins now . . . with one person at a time. Me . . . you.

“What do you want?” (Listen . . . hear.)
Okay, your turn.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Trash Our Treasures
People seem to have a history of awarding seemingly insignificant details with places of prominence in our lives, while ignoring or even destroying the most important aspects.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor2

What Would Love Do Now
It’s tough to remember to ask yourself this question in the heat of the moment, but it can pay big dividends.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescHere.html#Anchor10

Be Kind
Your example and the kindness shown to others can have a rippling affect that goes on and on.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescHB.html#Anchor9

Songs by Tupelo

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This is the end of the article entitled Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating published by Tupelo Kenyon on September 14, 2007 at 6:00 am | In Awareness, Communication, Manifestation, Productivity, Relationships - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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  1. Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating

    We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t ask. We don’t ask because we act as if we already know. Or, we don’t want to appear stupid. So we make an assumption. Then we forget it is merely something we made up, and we beh…

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  2. [...] Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating posted at Tupelo Kenyon, saying, “We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because [...]

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  3. [...] Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating posted at Tupelo Kenyon. We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t ask. [...]

    Pingback by Life Insurance Lowdown » Blog Archive » Carnival of Life, Happiness and Meaning #18 — September 23, 2007 #

  4. [...] Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating posted at Tupelo Kenyon, saying, “We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because [...]

    Pingback by The Personal Development Carnival, September 23, 2007 Edition | Personal Development for the Book Smart — September 23, 2007 #

  5. [...] Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating posted at Tupelo [...]

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  9. [...] Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t ask. We don’t ask because we act as if we already know. Or, we don’t want to appear stupid. So we make an assumption. Then we forget it is merely something we made up, and we behave as if it’s a fact. When the facts are known, it would never occur to us to assume. The solution is clear communication. When we know the truth, assumptions are forever unnecessary. [...]

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  10. [...] Tupelo Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete By Communicating [...]

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  11. [...] Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating We assume because we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t ask. We don’t ask because we act as if we already know. Or, we don’t want to appear stupid. So we make an assumption. Then we forget it is merely something we made up, and we behave as if it’s a fact. When the facts are known, it would never occur to us to assume. The solution is clear communication. When we know the truth, assumptions are forever unnecessary. [...]

    Pingback by TupeloKenyon.com » Life Drama as Blockage to Personal Development — December 21, 2007 #

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