My husband is my most valuable teacher. While the lessons can sometimes be contentious and uncomfortable, they always provide me with new insight and important knowledge about myself and human nature in general.
Such is the case with assumptions. For many years, any time we were in one of the heated discussions couples have from time to time, he would say “You make so many assumptions. It drives me crazy.” I would look at him with a very blank expression. I had no comprehension of what he meant.
I’ve had to trip over my assumptions – and fall flat on my face – many times before I understood what he was saying.
The word “assumption” has several meanings: a minor premise, something we take for granted, something we take upon ourselves. While there’s nothing particularly harmful about a minor premise, when we take it on as our own, it often gets tied up in our ego. We begin to believe that our assumptions are truth, that what we are thinking is 100% valid because it’s based on our experience, education and/or knowledge. This pushes our assumptions towards arrogance … and produces miscommunication, especially on the telephone.
At meetings and events, our assumptions are often reflected back to us by the facial expressions of others. We say something with great conviction and are greeted by puzzled looks, surprise or dismay, and this alerts us to the fact that we may need to rethink things.
On the phone we don’t have those clues so we need to distinguish, for ourselves and our audience, between our knowledge and expertise, and our educated guesses. This demands that we put our egos aside, that we focus our full attention on our customer and not on our importance to our customer. When we stay in a place of “service”, our assumptions are easy to identify.
We can still include them in conversation by introducing them with phrases like “I’m making the assumption that … ” or “Would I be correct to assume that … ” or “This may be an assumption on my part, but I’m thinking …”.
This language engages our customer, opens up the conversation to include ideas, thoughts and creativity. It also reveals our ability to be honest, vulnerable and humble – all characteristics that form the foundation of good relationships. I encourage you to give it a try.
Enjoy your PhoneWork everyone!