Like background music in a movie, assumptions may not be all that noticeable. Until they are. Assumptions are everywhere. They are so pervasive that we may not even recognize where we’re making them. Until they cause a problem.
This phrase is the common beginning to a sentence where the speaker is actually trying to be sure they aren’t assuming something incorrectly. It’s a bit of a paradox. By saying “I’m assuming”, you’re actually not. You’re letting the person you’re talking to know that rather than making an assumption, you’re checking it out to see if your best guess is correct.
Let’s agree to a definition of an assumption before we go down this road too far. Oxford Dictionary defines an assumption as “a belief or a feeling that something is true or that something will happen, although there is no proof.” It’s that last part, “although there is no proof” that gets us into trouble the most. We’re just going on belief or feeling. It’s extremely subjective and often represents our biases in one form or another.
What should we do instead?
Ask. We should ask questions. We can use that paradoxical phrase “I’m assuming…” to check something out. Or you can even cleverly adjust it to say something like, “Rather than assuming, I’d like to just check my understanding…” And then ask questions to seek a clear understanding of what the other person means to convey with their actions or words.
I also want to invite you to get more insight into where you’re most likely to make assumptions. You can take our “Are you a Chronic Assumer?” Quiz, free of charge, and get results sent directly to your inbox. You can also choose a day and simply track every time you are aware that you’re making an assumption.
Some assumptions are harmless. Some are not. Those assumptions can do a lot of damage to relationships, both personal and professional. Save time and save relationships. Ask more questions.