What do YOU think about assumption? The lesson I struggle to learn.

2013-08-23 10:25

Before I state my opinion in this piece I have to ask you, who reads it, to have patience as I move through from start to end which happens to be from negative to positive.

Disappointment, when our expectations are not met. When we interact with others, there is a lot that goes unsaid; we all understand the importance of body language and such. However, another unsaid communication is assumption, needless to say; the room for error is big with this one.

I compare it to stereotypes – we all understand that stereotyping means making generalisations about certain traits and then assuming expectations because of it. It is not sound and in fact it’s a logical fallacy – flaw of thought – yet we do it.

Why?

I think it’s like clichés, they are clichés for a reason, they hold some value. At some point we attached value to stereotyping that outweighs the value of logic and reason.

Moreover, we put our trust in these stereotypes enough to base decisions on them. Decisions which in turn are pieces of communication, sending messages out about what we believe and who we are.

So if we know that assumption – as in stereotyping – is flawed, yet we base our decisions on it, are our decisions flawed? I think so. We don’t carefully and rationally consider every decision that we make as we act on what we assume to be true.

Let me point out that I am not looking at perception because by its nature; assumption and perception are subjective; however, it is my thought that perception does not presuppose like assumption does. Assumption predicts on what it thinks it knows, whereas perception is current and in real time.

Like what we say; what we assume also speaks volumes about us. Our own experiences not only tint the lenses through which we view the world (perception) but also tint our binoculars through which we view / predict the future.

We learn through experience, trial and error and we think ‘lesson learned’ BUT what if a previous lesson that you think applies, based on your assumption, really doesn’t?

If I try and predict your actions to avoid a bad experience that I had before, based on something that I assume is the same as a previous experience, am I being fair to you? No.

Let’s add another layer, what if what you have done before makes me think this? Am I still wrong for making assumptions about you?

Ethically – if you treat a person as an end and not as a means to an end (or a pawn), then you should let that person decide and not presume that based on what you assume, to decide for them what you expect they will do and then that you will respect their decision.

The trouble, I think, comes in with our expectations. We expect that people treat us one way because that is what we do for them. Reciprocation, if I treat you with respect, I expect it from you. However when you don’t reciprocate or do the same – I am disappointed and then I make certain assumptions on how you will probably act in future and instead of respecting that your way of doing things may just be different, I let this assumption colour my binoculars.

The solution, I think, comes in when we respect that people are different and when things don’t go as we expect, that it’s ok. Disappointment is ok – there is a reason for it. I have experienced a different person with different priorities and perhaps I have disappointed you on some level that I don’t understand. If I can respect – truly respect – our differences; then my so-called ‘disappointment’ will greatly shrink in size.

To respect means to accept; even that which we don’t understand.

What do you think? Is there value in assumption, or are we cutting ourselves off unnecessarily?

Please leave a comment – tell me what you think because it’s important.

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