One of the greatest dangers in relationships is assuming people’s motives or intentions.
We do it all the time.
Someone doesn’t return our call or text or email and we assume they don’t care about us.
Your supervisor doesn’t comment on that project you worked hard on and we assume he didn’t like it or was dissatisfied with some aspect of it.
You walk past one of your leadership team members and she doesn’t even acknowledge you and you assume she doesn’t like you.
Your employee doesn’t do something you asked immediately, and you assume they don’t sense the urgency or don’t care about their work or are just mediocre employees.
Assuming motives is one of the quickest ways to short-circuit a relationship. It’s a trap. It causes us to pigeonhole people into categories: loser, cold, mediocre, uncaring, and so on.
Unfortunately, our assumptions are often incorrect.
To prevent that from happening we need to unpack an assumption (particularly if they are negative) and prevent it from determining the future of a relationship.
- Try to think of other possible explanations for your assumption. If you think someone is snubbing you, try to imagine all the things going on in that person’s life right now and consider they just might have other things on their mind.
- Try to clear the air. If you have a chance to talk to the person approach the conversation in humility. Ask something like this: “regarding ________ help me understand your position on this” or “I’m trying to understand a feeling I’m picking up from you and I’m not sure I’m getting the message you want me to get.”
• If the situation is reversed and you think a person is judging you based on something you did or did not do, say, “I’m getting the feeling you think may misunderstand where I’m coming from?” And in the conversation unpack the other person’s feelings and create clarity for them about your intentions.
In short, we need to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and not judge or condemn them based upon our assumptions.