When You Assume…

Don't Assume You'll Get A Perfect PBJ Sandwich - Or RequestAt some point we’ve probably all had that smart aleck in our life who asks if we know how to spell “assume.”

For me it was an old boss in the telecom world. Any time I used the word “assume” in a sentence – even if nothing had gone wrong – she would cut me off to remind me how to spell the word.

Bottom line: we all assume things. But we don’t realize how often we do it. Assuming can cause major problems in our communications. That’s why 37signals’ Jason Fried suggests communicating with people the same way we would program a computer.

Ever give instructions to someone and the voice in the back of your head says, “They’ll figure it out”? Well, that doesn’t work with computers. For a computer to work, it needs you to program every single detail.

If you get my gist…

Assumptions happen because we’re all cursed by knowledge. But you can beat the curse.

Here is a quick assumption-buster checklist:

Jargon:  Will everyone understand the acronym or buzzword I’m using? What might I need to clarify?

• Purpose:  Am I assuming we all know the point of the meeting is? Are we all on the same page?

Processes:  Do I need to go into detail about the processes I’m describing? Does this compute as easily for everyone else as it does for me?

History:  Am I referencing events well known to me, but less known to everyone else? Am I talking about something in the company history that newer employees don’t know about?

What other assumptions do we need to avoid? Add them in the comments, below.

 

2 comments on “When You Assume…

  1. And don’t assume everyone knows what the next steps to take will be after you’ve delivered the message. Have a clear plan of action. Communicate it effectively and concretely.

  2. I would add to explain whether you are there to inform, collaborate, or to gain commitments.