4 Ways to Stop Yourself Before You Assume Incorrectly

  November 14, 2018

When you assume, you make a a-…

I’m not going to say it. But you know it’s true.

Let’s face it. Assumptions contribute in a major way to workplace miscommunication.

Assumptions are something taken as fact when there’s no proof. They’re often preconceived misconceptions about a situation, person, group, or task – likely based on past experiences with others.¹

I’m willing to bet you do this a bit more than you’d like to believe.

Admit it, at some time or another, you may have assumed…
– a team member had a full understanding of a project, when they did not. Or you assumed this about yourself.
– a deadline was much later – and it turned out to be more urgent than you knew.
– someone was upset with you based on an email you read – when it turned out that they had no hard feelings at all.
– everyone got your email – when they may not have.
– things about colleagues based on age, gender, or race.

When you make assumptions, you forgo communicating at all – and that’s when things get costly…

I know what you’re thinking. “But when I assume, I’m always right about my assumptions!”

I mean… come on, really? That’s just another assumption!

Imagine the time saved by simply asking a question instead of drawing unfounded conclusions about co-workers and projects.

Here are 4 Ways You Can Catch Yourself Before Making a False Assumption!

WAY #1 : Ask. Don’t assume.³

If there’s a cloud of fog over any part of a project, that is exactly the thing you need to ask about. Try not to clear smoke with your assumptions. It’s much better to get ahead of a future miscommunication by clarifying things now.

  • As a leader, ask your team to explain their understanding of the task to make sure they know how to proceed.
  • As a team member, make sure to do the same. Communication is a two-way street.

WAY #2 : Avoid reacting. Respond to things instead.³

How’s that conclusion you just jumped to? Whatever someone said to trigger you – in person or over email – breathe first until your bad feelings pass! Rather than acting on emotion, dig into your personal values and respond accordingly. For example, if you value respect, you will respond with respect – even if you feel you may have been disrespected.

WAY #3 : Reconsider things more than once.

In the example above (a disrespectful comment), I recommend re-visiting what was said with a clear mind to determine its intent. You may find out the person wasn’t intending to be hurtful at all. If it’s a project you’re working on, and you feel suddenly unsure how to proceed, this is also a reminder to confirm (or re-confirm) the best way to continue.

WAY #4 : Make time for regular communication.

Weekly team huddles don’t have to be “just another meeting.” They can be engineered to be brief, concise, to-the-point – and just long enough to keep everyone informed and on-track. These can be game-changers when it comes to boosting morale, avoiding assumptions, and improving interpersonal work relationships.


If you or someone you know would like to talk more about how to improve workplace communication, please contact me and let me know. I can help.

Your Business Coach and Consultant,
Theresa Valade, CEO

¹ WESST.
² Chron.
³Dan Tromatter.

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