A few months ago I was contacted to speak to a local women's association group. In the context of our communications, I was asked if I had a book, and if so, would I offer a discount? I assumed the client wanted a discount off my speaking services if some of their audience members purchased my book. So I informed them I could offer a $10 discount for every book purchased. If 6 people bought my book, I would give a $60 discount off my speaking fee.
Boy was I surprised when my client placed an order for 60 books. I was trapped. She didn't want a discount off my speaking services; she wanted a discount off my book. The cost of my assumption was the difference between $600 and $60. Thankfully, I was dealing with a kind hearted client and she understood my mistake. I was able to save our relationship and my bank account.
How many times have you made a decision based on an assumption? When was the last time you assumed what someone was thinking or feeling? It is not uncommon for us to think differently, and many times wrongly, based upon our collective past experiences. Our brain gathers and stores information regarding all the events in our lives. When we are faced with a similar situation, our brain retrieves the data it needs to process the information needed to make sense of the most current event.
Let's use a hypothetical example. Suppose, in your career lifetime, you have been passed over for a promotion three different times. Your organization has released a notice about an available career opportunity. This position would be considered a promotion for you. You would love to apply but your brain reminds you of the past. Based on this information, you assume you will not get the job so you don't even bother applying. The cost of your assumption is you'll never know if you would have received the promotion.
Assumptions are a trap and here are three good reasons to avoid them:
Assumptions create mistakes. Whether it's a monetary mistake like the one I made, or some other kind of mistake, assumptions can damage your relationships and your reputation. If you catch yourself making an assumption, stop and check it out. Clarify and find out if your assumption is correct. Then make your decision or plan your next move based on accurate information.
Assumptions promote small thinking. Assumptions can easily be converted to limiting beliefs. What is a limiting belief? Basically, it is any belief that limits you from reaching your full potential... "The customer will only order 6 books. I am not going to get that promotion. There is no one available to help me. I don't have enough education or expertise. I am too old to find a good man." You definitely don't want to buy into assumptions like these. Think big and think positive!
Assumptions will create your future. Your assumptions will create your reality. Assumptions are preconceived thoughts we have about ourselves and others. From our thoughts are chemical reactions called emotions. Our emotions then dictate our behavior. So if you want to change your future, start changing your thoughts. Think the best of everyone and every situation. Sometimes you may be wrong, but think about how optimistic your world can be if you only assume positive outcomes.
The next time you catch yourself making an assumption, challenge yourself. Commit to debunking the truth, think big and don't let the past dictate your future.