Warning: Assumptions Ahead
We make assumptions all the time—especially when we assume that everyone else is just like us.
- If you’re excited about an opportunity, you might assume that others ought to be enthusiastic as well.
- If you feel left out in a particular situation, you might assume that everyone else would also feel left out.
When we remember that not everyone is like us, we enter a scenario with a more open mind. What if you approached a situation with curiosity rather than assumptions? How would that reframe what you expected? How would that shift your original approach?
When we set our assumptions aside and bring forward our curiosity about others, we create a safe space for meaningful dialogue.
Making assumptions limits your thinking.
Being curious and asking questions expands your own perspective and creates space for a more open conversation. It invites others involved in the conversation to shape your understanding. As a leader, understanding others is critical to effectiveness.
Staying curious and open-minded is critical to effective meetings.
Have you ever attended a meeting thinking, “oh, I know exactly how she’s going to react to this” or “I need to get my ideas out there before he starts in again.” Have you ever discovered later that you had misinterpreted a coworker’s tone or the intention behind something they shared during a meeting? How does making these types of assumptions in meetings affect how you act and react? Instead, try entering a meeting space with curiosity. Rather than making assumptions based on what you think you know about your coworkers, try asking open-ended questions to advance the conversation.
There is one exception to the rule of suspending assumptions—the need to assume positive intent.
When we assume that everyone comes to the conversation with good intentions, we will be less likely to make additional assumptions about what others think or mean throughout the conversation or in subsequent interactions. When we set our assumptions aside and bring forward our curiosity about a subject or about how others are showing up, we create space for meaningful dialogue. Oftentimes, this then leads to increased collaboration and innovation across teams and organizations.
As a leader, understanding others is critical to effectiveness.
By questioning your own assumptions, you open your mind to alternate possibilities.
This reminds you that you’re seeing the situation through your lens, while the other person’s experience is filtered through their particular—and different—lens. #SNOITPMUSSA
Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.
Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.
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