A man got into a bus and found himself sitting next to a youngster who was obviously a hippy. He was wearing only one shoe.
“You’ve evidently lost a shoe, son.”
“No man,” came the reply. “I found one.”
It is evident to me; that does not mean it is true
On reading this I was reminded of how one of my old assumptions led to a lesson in humility 🙂 No easy feat this one!!
We had a lovely breakfast and spent the time paying attention to each other. It was a beautiful moment. On finishing our breakfast we walked down to pay our bill. Now the owner of the restaurant is a very old man who does not really care about what people think about him. At the counter I saw neat take away items all packed in newspapers. My mind immediately conjured an old memory of my childhood where this type of packing was used for packing small pieces of fresh butter. So falling back on my memory i assumed these too were the same so I pointed to them and asked – how much for one of the pieces of butter. The sharp minded old man looked at me. After a longish break he asked me “you think this is butter? He continued – what makes you think this is butter?. He ensured he asked this question and few times untill the message was clearly understood… I smiled at him and walked out with one of the valuable lessons life was teaching me at that moment . Instead of asking “what is this?” I had fallen back on an old conditioned learning. Instead of being fully present in that moment and looking at it without baggage I had let my mind fall back on old stories.
Assumptions cause a lot of energy drain especially in relationships so it is not one of the habits to nurture. They are like specks of dust or colour on your glasses – your vision is obscured
Why Do we assume?
There is a long list list of why’s for why we assume however we are not going into the long list and too much detail. Few that are top of the mind recall are:-
1. To establish that we know exactly what we are talking about
2. To prove that we are wise and have the knowledge
3. We assume because we are afraid to know the truth.
4. We are afraid to ask questions because our personality is threatened
5. We assume because we take it for granted that our communication skills and words used are decoded exactly the way we convey it in our mind to ourselves
Here is an example of decoding words- During my NLP masters course the trainer asked each one of the 20 participants a simple question “what does integrity mean to you ?”
What do you think must have been the outcome?
Well we use the word so often we assume that there is a common understanding of the meaning for all. Outcome was the exact opposite! for each one in that group the understanding of the word integrity was different- no two answers came close to each other. I was left wondering – imagine the tons of word we use in our conversations with an understanding which is again “an assumption” that the other person is following exactly what I am trying to convey.
One way to avoid this pit fall is to ask questions like “I understand you are saying this and expect me to do that. Is it right? Initially you will have to overcome your assumed fear that the other person will “think you are dumb” but in the long run it will save you tons of re-work and lost energy in relationships. Have I ever experienced this? LOL
The below story teaches the lesson of “knowing exactly ” succinctly
“An oyster saw a loose pearl that had fallen into the crevice of a rock on the ocean bed. After great effort she managed to retrieve the pearl and place it just beside her on a leaf.
She knew that humans searched for pearls and thought, “This pearl will tempt them, so they will take it and let me be.”
When a pearl diver showed up, however, his eyes were conditioned to look for oysters and not for pearls resting on leaves.
So he grabbed the oyster which did not happen to have a pearl and allowed the real pearl to roll back into the crevice in the rock.
You know exactly where to look. That is the reason why you fail to find God
It is evident that to have enriching communication it is best to avoid using assumptions. Spend a day without using any assumptions and see how it goes. Below are a few pointers you could use to make it work for you
1. Observe your thoughts and the words that are formed. How many of them are based on assumptions?
2. If you notice that you are using an assumption – question it. Is this really the case?
3. Ask a question to clarify. Let the question not include the assumption
4. Keep Silent!
I am sure you have come across your share of laughs and lessons. Go ahead and share some of the incidents that come to mind. Looking forward to hear from you. Hit reply to leave a comment
Some additional reading from tinybuddha