Most people are inquisitive. When you don’t know, you want to know. Have you ever considered what wrong assumptions are costing you or your workplace team?
Assumptions are closely linked to stereotypes and correspondence bias. It is often connected to what some may know as, the fundamental attribution error. The FAE is a common factor in workplace conflict.
People make assumptions. People make assumptions about other people.
What we see is often translated into our own experiences. It is analyzed based on our knowledge, what we’ve read, past interactions, and a whole lot more.
Our understanding of any situation is often based on an assumption.
When you see a speeding car on the highway, what do you think?
She must be late.
He is careless and is going to cause an accident.
He or she must believe that they are something special, entitled, or too cool to drive at a safe speed.
Of course, there are other possibilities too.
Wow, that is a cool car. I want one.
My car is faster, I’ll prove it.
The truth is, we don’t know the driver’s situation. We don’t know what they are experiencing and how our assumptions may change if we understood.
What if that driver just received a telephone call that their child was seriously injured, their spouse had a heart attack, or another loved one was moments from passing away at a hospital located just off the next exit?
Would it change how you felt about that speeding car? It might.
In the workplace, we make assumptions every day. Whether we are working in close physical proximity or whether we are WFH (working from home).
We could be driving, flying, or even on a train. It could be early, late, or during a lunch hour.
People are always making assumptions.
We’ll never hit this goal.
Tom is working from home again. He is probably goofing off.
Where is Susan? She should have been here an hour ago. She’s always late.
All of the work that you do and all of the interactions you have condition what assumptions you’ll make.
Often our assumptions appear to be reality. If our assumption is not proven to be wrong or false, or worse, if it gets confirmed, our beliefs on the matter grow stronger.
What assumptions have you made today? How are those assumptions conditioning what happens next?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.