SPEAK OUT; AVOID ASSUMPTIONS – BY DAVID IBIYEOMIE
1Samuel.15:18-21 – And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
To assume is to take something for granted, to expect that things will be a certain way because they have been that way in the past or because you want them to be that way.
Prov.18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
At the root of every mis-communication and every misunderstanding is an assumption. We assume that people know exactly what we mean. We assume that people interpret things the same way we do. We assume that we have been clear enough–emphatic enough–frequently enough to get our point across. We don’t check our assumptions.
Oftentimes, you have not been clear but you don’t know that; so you go about your business operating under the assumption that others will do exactly what you intended as a result of your communication. When they fail to deliver what you expected, you are disappointed, perhaps even angry.
Similarly, we make assumptions when others communicate to us. We over-rely on our past experiences and on our own limited frame of reference. We think we know what others mean because we filter what they say to calibrate it with what’s familiar, comfortable or desirable to us.
It is important to be careful about what you assume because assumptions obstruct the evaluation process.
When there are gaps in the information collected, you fill in those blanks to reconcile what you are experiencing with what you think is going on. You don’t even realize you do this. The danger is, that what your senses are telling you and what you think is happening may not be reality. The good news is there is a remedy to assumption: conversations. A simple conversation can quickly clear up a lot of assumptions made on either party’s part, and it can enrich the relationship.
WAYS TO CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS You can improve your communications simply if you simply would check your assumptions. Here are some ways that you can do that:
1. While communicating details, be as specific as possible, and remember to include the where (with details), when, and time.
2. When someone else is expressing a follow-up item or an important idea to you, paraphrase it back to them whether they ask you to or not. Repeat back what you’ve just heard or said. Make sure you are on the same page one last time.
And, be prepared to take notes or write it down so you reinforce what you’ve heard. This will help to expose any misinterpretations or assumptions that could cause problems later.
3. Ask questions to clarify that you understand what you are both talking about. Don’t assume you both understand the same thing! In fact, invite others to ask you questions. Set an expectation that questions are okay and should be asked.
4. By clarifying how you feel and what you value, you will avoid making the assumption that others are right there with you. Chances are that they are not.
In all communication, we have an equal responsibility to understand and to be understood. To avoid frustrations that follow assumptions, be proactive. Instead of assuming, be clear and complete in all of your communication.
Instead of leaving room for others to make assumptions, check for understanding. By doing so, you will be more effective as a communicator. And those who are communicating with you will feel more effective, too.
God bless you!