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.

 

Power to the Pause

Imagine opening a book with no commas, no periods, no paragraph breaks. Or better yet, read this: Say youre speaking to a room full of tech savvy folks you could say our network is secure everyone in the audience regardless of how cursed by tech they are would have some … Continue reading

What If Everybody is Cursed By Knowledge?

Anytime you’re presenting something – say, the ins and outs of cloud computing – and are so entrenched in that world you forget it’s possible for someone to not know all about it, you’re suffering from the Curse of Knowledge. We’ve written about this before. But what if everyone in … Continue reading

What Joni Mitchell might say about cloud computing

A cute white puffy cloud – like the kind you used to draw next to the smiling sun in Kindergarten. But rather than find it on your child’s artwork, these days you’re more likely to see it right smack dab in the middle of an insanely complex technical diagram (the … Continue reading

The Significance of Storytelling

After writing about Compartmentalized Communicating, I’ve been thinking about how significant storytelling is to the successful communications experience. Nothing makes that human, emotional connection better than authentic, compelling storytelling. It was Hans Rosling‘s brilliant presentation of statistics at TED India that has kept this topic on my mind. As Hans … Continue reading

Video Blog: 1×1 Feedback for Mayor Gavin Newsom

Thank you for all the response on my last video blog! I’m happy to keep them coming, so here we go with a second quick video where I’ll talk about communication in the news. Remember, I also want to give you feedback! Video tape yourself at a meeting or giving … Continue reading

Warren Buffett knows about investing – in yourself

When you see clips like these, it’s easy to understand why Warren Buffett is the man. Now, of course, I LOVE the fact that he acknowledges communications as one of the #1 ways you can increase your human capital and value to your team, company, organization, and even family and … Continue reading

Video Blog: Carrie Prejean on the Today Show

Here’s my first attempt at a video blog! This is hopefully one of many quick videos where I’ll give feedback for communication in the news. I also want to give you feedback! Send me a video of you giving a presentation, doing Q&A, or rehearsing a speech (less than 10 … Continue reading

Are you in the weeds?

We’ve all been there – caught up in the shrinking world of tunnel vision.  But when communicating with others, being in the weeds can lose your audience. Last week I coached two executives, neither of whom had used video feedback before.  In both of these sessions, we addressed the need … Continue reading

A little eye communication goes a long way for WOMM

Last week I wrote on various aspects of eye communication. A couple of experiences prompt me to write again – on how eye communication impacts word of mouth marketing. And how important is word of mouth marketing? 80% of reviews are positive…because people want to share things they enjoy. Known … Continue reading