Are You Jumping to Conclusions?

Don't Just Assume

photo of women and man having serious conversation"I'm asking more questions vs. jumping to conclusions." That's what Madeline¹ counted as a success in the week that transpired since our last conversation. Rather than assume she knows what someone else is thinking, Madeline, an orthodontist, says she is making a point to ask more questions so that she can respond better to both her patients and staff. Having the courage to ask is one of the attributes of a leader that, previously, we had identified to strengthen.

It must have been Don't Jump to Conclusions Week because the next day, Lauren², a corporate attorney, reported a similar success. After receiving a rather cryptic email from her boss about the hours she was keeping, Lauren's immediate reaction was concern. She was also frustrated by the pressure to put in excessive hours, even when the workload didn't warrant it. Lauren wanted her boss to know that while work-life balance is important to her, her commitment level and work ethic remain strong. She decided to talk to him the next day.

It turned out that he was fine with Lauren's hours and had no doubt about her being a team player. He was actually watching her back and gave her some tips for managing the perceptions of others. Lauren was also impressed by the fact that her boss was well aware of a colleague who made a show of coming in early and leaving late, yet wasn't all that productive with his time.

What's The Truth?

Good thing Lauren didn't just stew over a perplexing email from her boss. Instead she had the courage to ask what was behind the note.

In the book The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz offers four principles that form a code of conduct for life, the third of which is: Don't Make Assumptions. He explains that it is often our mistaken assumptions that result in conflict, emotional reactions, and drama. Ruiz says this happens because we are afraid to ask for clarification. Sometimes this conflict occurs internally, because we are making assumptions about ourselves, whether underestimating or overestimating our abilities in a given situation. According to Ruiz, what's actually needed might be to gather more facts or to ask yourself more questions about what you truly want.³

The Courage to Ask

Make it a habit to check your assumptions. They might be right, they might be wrong, but the truth is liberating. Have the courage to face things head-on and as Ruiz claims, "your way of communicating will change completely."4

This Week's Call To Action:

  • What conversation will you courageously initiate this week?
  • Even if you think you know, ask and make sure.

There is a truth ready to be known. There is a relationship -- with yourself or another -- about to be unbound from a false assumption and possibly strengthened.

"...find your voice to ask for what you want.
Everybody has the right to tell you no or yes,
but you always have the right to ask."5
-Don Miguel Ruiz

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

¹Name changed for privacy. Here is a related article with more insights from Madeline: It's True: You Are Free
²Name changed for privacy.
³Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., 1997), 63-74.
4Ruiz, 71
5Ruiz, 72.