I have a little mission at the moment. A daily challenge to stop making assumptions about people. To limit my brain’s tendency to pre-judge the world and everyone in it.
It’s not so simple.
But first, why am I bothering?
We can start with the well-known phrase “Assume’ makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” Personally I think that’s pretty clear. But maybe you’d like a bit more of an explanation. And you’d be right to want one because there is more to it than that.
Assumptions are essentially judgements that the people around you have or will behave or act as per your expectations. You can find out what I think about expectations in my earlier post.
Every assumptions belittles the universe. You think you know what the future will bring or why someone did what they did. You don’t. There could be an infinite number of influencing factors beyond just one great big blundering assumption.
Sure everyone has knowledge and life experience that allows informed judgements about the likelihood of certain eventualities to be made. But that doesn’t mean you know what someone will do or why they did what they just did.
In certain scenarios you do have to make assumptions. For example, when you have a range of information when you need a distinct value, you can assume the most conservative estimate, or take the average. There is a time and a place for an assumption, fair enough. I’m not trying to change my behaviours in regard to that type of scenario.
Unfortunately the human tendency is to use assumptions to overly simplify the complex; to label other people and their actions in overly simplified and big crayoned child written letters.
I know that I do it. Do you do it too? Do people deserve better? I’ve come to the conclusion that they do. After all, my motivations and reasons for doing things are fairly complex. As I’m not special (apart from being the only me, in the same way that you are the only you), I guess that it is also true for other people too.
So that is the focus of my personal mini-mission; to stop making assumptions about other people. Instead, try to understand and appreciate their perspective before I go making any assumption based 0judgements.
After all, I hope others would do the same for me. So perhaps it is time I start doing the same for them.