Let's see how simple we can make things.
At least once a week I am involved in a serious conversation where I hear facts start to get mixed in with assumptions. I’ve become pretty adept at identifying that behaviour. And I’ve become pretty bold about asking that we check it.
Yes, it does get awkward. When someone comes to you and they’ve got a problem and they want your help, they generally start describing what’s wrong. And you start to get signals such as:
– This is hearsay or isn’t something the person reporting has experienced firsthand.
– This incident is being mixed with previous history.
– There are guesses being taken. (Frequently the word “assume” itself is used.)
You’ve got emotions. You’ve got trusted colleagues. You’ve got your own set of experiences. I understand, but you need to recognize that you’re making assumptions. And you need to recognize that you’re assuming something is wrong. (Of course, I’m assuming that. I could be wrong!)
I have a request to make: Assume something is right.
If you don’t have all the information you think you need, assume that the person who can give it to you is willing. If you are having a disagreement, assume that it is a misunderstanding on your part. If you are passing along a report of a problem, assume the other party involved has a point. If you don’t agree with a decision that was made, assume that there are facts and circumstances that made it the right one at the time.
There are good, intelligent people out there. Go out and check your assumptions with them.