My new favorite blog inspiration, the podcast 10 Things to Tell You, talked all about the assumptions we make about others. The podcast episode talked about the many ways we make assumptions about others throughout our day. If someone in front of me doesn’t hold the door open for me, I could assume he is a jerk and not a gentleman, or I could assume that he is having a bad day or that he didn’t see me or that I have no idea what is going on in his life.
I’ve written about presuming positive intentions before, especially in education. This idea is worth revisiting because I think during stressful situations or disagreements, we often fall back on our own assumptions. Since I started a new job just two months ago, I have worked hard to get to know people authentically, and not to make any snap judgements based on assumptions. One strategy that has helped with this has been many face-to-face meetings. When in doubt, I find it’s better to meet in person, or at least over a phone call, then to try to understand someone’s perspective through texts or emails. I find that in the written word is where I often make the most assumptions about others.
The one other place I find myself making the most assumptions is about complete strangers in public. When I see someone do something I would never do, or act in a way that seems shocking, I make a lot of assumptions in my mind. I have enough self control not to say most of the things I think, unless I’m with one of my best friends who can practically read my mind, but the thoughts are still there. As I reflect, I realize that my assumptions are often based on my own biases or lack of understanding. My hope is that I can catch myself as these thoughts first arise in my mind, and take a moment to step back and pause before making any more assumptions about someone I do not know.
What role do assumptions play in your life?