Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ass U Me

Have you ever met someone, took one look at them, and summed them up instantly. Have you ever immediately labeled someone rich, poor, uneducated, annoying, cynical, optimistic, friendly, mean, spoiled, selfish, smart, leader, follower, stupid or intelligent?

Have you ever walked into a meeting at work and saw two people huddled together and periodically looking at you. What did you think? Did you make up an entire story of what they were talking about? Did you make up an entire story that they were talking about you?

These scenarios highlight the third agreement.

Agreement #3 Don’t Assume Anything!

I can’t tell you how many times I had to pull my foot out of my mouth because I made an assumption. Assumptions can be a dangerous if they are based on first impressions, little data, or prejudices. Actually, making an assumption is a form or prejudice. It’s the act of prejudging without any supporting information.

Ruiz writes: “We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for

The biggest challenge in making assumptions is that most of the time we aren’t aware that we are doing it. Our assumptions come from the way we were raised, how we were educated, where we have lived, who is in our circle of influence, and our religion or customs. Because of this - we don't recognize our assumptions and it becomes very hard to correct ourselves.
Assumptions impact our view of society at large:
  • When you see a black man with tattoos and braided hair – what do you think?
  • When you see a thin woman in a Chanel suit with a designer bag – what do you think?
  • When you see a woman in a grocery line with several children, counting her pennies - what do you think?
Assumptions can also impact our relationships:
  • Your spouse or significant other should know what you need and want – you shouldn’t have to tell them.
  • You assume your spouse or significant other will handle money a certain way because that’s they way it was done in your household when you were growing up.
  • You assume your friends will ultimately betray you so you are always guarded - never becoming close to anyone.
Assumptions can also impact your business:
  • You assume the clients that you have today will be your clients tomorrow.
  • You assume that if you do good work, your clients will pay you on time.
  • You assume old clients don’t need to hear from you as often or receive your best customer service.
So, how did I learn to keep my foot out of my mouth?

One of the best ways to get past your assumptions – your prejudices – is to not be afraid to ask questions. To communicate. To look at each situation and each individual with curiosity. To approach each new encounter or relationship with fresh eyes - to ask yourself "what if I am wrong". It’s the only way to get out of assumptions and into truth.

  • Tell you husband or wife what you want and need - don't assume they know.
  • Share your feelings and thoughts with your friends and build a relationship of trust.
  • Make your clients a priority.
By doing so, you can improve your current relationships and open yourself up to more - as your world opens up and you begin to see the world differently when you put aside your assumptions.

Besides, you know what they say when you assume!


  1. I think I have gotten much better with NOT making assumptions--however, it has been an effort over time. We set ourselves up for disappointments, rejection and hurt feelings when we assume certain things about situations. For example, I could ASSUME that everyone knows that my birthday is coming up on MARCH 8th. However, instead of assuming that I will be showered with gifts and sacrifices on that day (and being let down when that didn't happen), I have been actively campaining and reminding individuals since mid Feb that the big day is almost here! LOL

  2. You are so right! When it comes to my birthday, I learned the hard way not to make any assumptions!!! If I want a party - I'll plan it. If I want to try a new restaurant - I'll make the reservations. If I want a tennis bracelet - I'll drop hints all day long. And while that last one hasn't produced any results yet, I'm still hinting and still hoping!! LOL