A few months ago, I was booked to speak at an event in a hotel outside London. I had heard about the area but never visited it before.
More importantly, I assumed the location was closer, I assumed there was only a 20-minute option for a speaking slot, and I assumed that by bringing dozens of paperback copies of my book, they would all get sold.
But here was the reality as it unfolded.
The hotel location was in another town miles away along a toll road that seemed endless. There were actually 50-minute slots and 20-minutes slots for speakers to choose, and my book sold only a couple of copies, not all of them.
Here’s how I could have dealt with this event if I would have pushed my assumptions to one side, asked questions and planned purposefully.
I would have looked up the exact hotel location beforehand, asked about the speaking slot timings and claimed the 50-minute speaking slot, then ensured that previous to the event, I had publicised my book on the event facebook group, so that the participants would know that the book would be available to them.
There is a choice to plan, structure and become more deliberate about our actions and the outcome we want.
Assumptions are a movie playing in our head using a dialogue which has been made up.
It exists from the area in our brain that utters the words; maybe, perhaps, suppose, suspect.
It isn’t a definite, it’s purely speculation.
We were brought up not to ask too many questions. It’s rude, nosy, it might make the other person feel uncomfortable as if they’re undergoing an FBI interrogation. We want to be polite, liked, and please people.
I’m all for going with your gut feeling, listening to your internal wisdom, but I’m also passionate about proactively going out there and getting what I want, how I want it, in the way I want it.
The only way to do this is to assume less and ask more.
Become an asker versus a guesser.
Asking allows you to delve deeper and get clarity.
Here’s how assuming might play out in your life;
You assume your partner is ready for marriage because he gave you the keys to his apartment. You assume that your boss is interested in promoting you because he has given you extra responsibilities. You assume that a prospect will turn into a client, simply because he contacted you to ask for more details about your product.
One of the ways you can step out of this, is to start clarifying more.
Ask the direct question.
Are you considering marriage, am I up for promotion, is this product something you would be interested in purchasing?
Newspapers sell via the avenue of assumptions, hearsay and suppositions, and yet opening the paper on a Sunday morning whilst having breakfast, and reading a bunch of suppositions, can turn anyone into a quivering wreck.
Sensationalising and assumptions sell papers, not a life that is meaningful and purposeful.
We need to prove more and assume less, it will mean you become more active and less passive. The moment you step into assuming, catch yourself doing so, and ask yourself;
What evidence have I got that this is a definite conclusion?
I used to spend my energy connecting with those who made contact via my coaching website to share their issue, yet in reality, they had no interest in being coached and were totally uninvested in beginning the process. They just wanted free advice.
A simple question would have cut out all the back and forth.
Are you requesting a coaching consultation? A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer would have sufficed, and saved me dozens of e-mails.
When we assume, we carry around its lifelong partner;
The process of expectation is heavy, it creates a story that is fictional, with an ending that is totally made up. This results in a build-up of frustration, anger and irritation. Yet what you expected was never a certainty in the first place, it was simply a story you made up, with fictional characters that don’t exist, in a land that is as fluffy as the clouds.
This is why assumptions aren’t taken seriously in court.
They mean nothing in a court of law. What a judge wants to know is what is truth, and certainty. Become a lawyer in the courtroom, don’t leave loose ends in the process, check things out, ask further questions. This saves years of unnecessary frustration and takes you into ownership and truth.
In order to do this, it’s important to slow down. Often we are so quick to please others, to say ‘yes’ constantly, that we don’t become more measured, pausing and assessing the situation with all the evidence right in front of our eyes.
I was coaching a client who wanted to create more revenue for his business.
So what had he scheduled that week?
A coffee and chat with a connection he had met a while back; beware of the word ‘chat’ when someone slips this into a business arrangement. In my experience, it’s a word used for social instead of a professional conversation.
“What are you hoping will happen in this coffee meeting?” I asked him.
His response was exactly what I expected.
“I’m assuming we will speak about how I can help them, and I guess I could share my ideas if we get to that part,” he said sheepishly.
All a recipe for getting nowhere.
I asked him to prepare for the meeting beforehand, getting clarity on how he would set it up and what he wanted to discuss. Also leaving space to ask his connection if there was anything he could help him with or anyone he could introduce him to.
This left nothing to chance, it means my client could become more deliberate in his actions. It meant focusing on his goal, which was to create new clients, additional revenue and give tremendous value which would potentially bring new referrals.
My clients’ current system of assuming, was perfect for the results he was getting; pretty much zero. If he wanted to create a different result, another system would need to be created. This would not include coffee chats, winging it, guessing or waiting to see what would happen next.
It meant pro-actively going out and making it happen. He had to stop assuming less and planning more, so that each interaction would be purposeful and his goal of expanding the business could become a reality.
Not only do assumptions play out in our actions, but also impacts our communication.
When in conversation with another person, how many times have you assumed what they’re just about to say, so you aren’t really listening to what they’re saying?
This is one of the hardest things to overcome when I coach my clients.
Never assuming what my client is going to say and that the story they are sharing with me is all there is, as there is always another more important story lurking in the back office of their mind.
I ask questions and seek permission, I can’t assume that just because they wanted to speak about one aspect of their life, that they are ready to open up all others areas.
When speaking with another person, check-in with them.
Just like you do when you’re about to travel on an airline and have to queue up to check into a flight at the airport.
There is a procedure for getting you through the air terminal, where you’re constantly checking in, to ensure that you’re at the correct airport, embarking on the correct airline, and flying out to the destination you booked on.
If checking in constantly as you navigate through the terminal wasn’t part of the process, you would end up in Amsterdam when you booked a weekend break in Portugal.
Checking reassures you that you’re going in the right direction.
This will slow you down and prevent you from running fast forward into situations. Make a choice to assume less, question more and delve deeper. Your life will become more purposeful and there will be less confusion, fuzziness and more clarity.
If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, contact me on [email protected]