We all want to be understood and connected to the people we work with.
This is a key to getting anything done successfully.
There is a barrier, a wall that often keeps us from this, and that barrier is assumptions.
Assumption of motives.
Assumption of motives is a wall we put in our way that prevents us from understanding the intent of another. Typically, what I’m talking about is assumption of negative or wrong motives.
If I believe someone has anything other than pure motives in approaching a situation, I will filter our discussion through that lens—if I allow any discussion at all.
The easy way to understand this is the salesman that wants to be our friend. The whole time we are filtering this through the lens of “he’s interested in me only so he can make the sale.”
Assumption of meaning.
But we can assume all sorts of things about people: they’re just thinking of themselves, they don’t like me (or worse, hate me), they are liars, they want my job, they’re trying to undermine my efforts, they want control, they only want things their way, they don’t like me (did I say that already?), and so on.
These assumptions can shut down a conversation as quick as telling Alexa to stop.
Sometimes, when we’re listening to the TV a commercial will come on about the Amazon Alexa, which we have. Our Alexa will hear the TV person talking to Alexa and assume it’s a request from us. It’s not. So sometimes we must reengage Alexa to make sure “she”knows what we want.
We think we know what a person wants or means, and we can be terribly wrong.
It’s easy to interpret someone’s busyness with indifference. Or, to assume someone doesn’t care because they didn’t answer your email within five seconds.
The flip side of this is that it’s easy to communicate these things by being too busy or not responding in an acceptable amount of time. Both sides carry the responsibility to connect with clarity.
So, the way to take down the walls, or even prevent the barriers to be erected to begin with is to…..
Slow down. Curb our reaction time. Consider our assumptions may not be what we think. Give the person the benefit of the doubt, and engage in a conversation that unpacks meaning.