We Do This All Day, Every Day

We Do This All Day, Every Day

We make assumptions about people and situations all day, every day.  We assume we know what others are really thinking, why they’re doing the things they’re doing and what they really mean.  The problem with making assumptions is that we almost always assume the negative.  I do, anyway.

Too often we jump to a conclusion that is not only wrong, but also often hurtful.  For example, if our children are not responding to us, we quickly assume that they’re rude and disrespectful.  If our partner or friend is quiet and sullen, we assume they’re mad at us, relationally inept or impossible to talk with.  If a parent gives us feedback, we assume it’s because all they see in us is the negative.  Seldom do we assume positive intentions.

Although there may be times when our assumptions are correct, the reality is that, more often than not, they are incorrect…and strongly negatively slanted.  For example, a while back I was in a home decorating store and walked past a woman wearing an overwhelming amount of perfume.  I immediately started sneezing, my nose was running, my eyes were watering and I started having to clear my throat almost incessantly.  I powered through the sudden onset of these symptoms, got in line and was content to wait my turn.  As I was standing there I was still incessantly clearing my throat for no other reason but to keep breathing when suddenly the clerk behind the counter yells at me “I’m going as fast as I can! Stop being so rude!”  I was stunned.  She assumed I was being inpatient and was discontent waiting in line when in fact I was not unhappy at all except for the fact that my eyes and nose were running profusely and my throat was practically closing shut.  This clerk made an assumption.  I probably would have made the same one.  

When it comes to the behaviors of others, remember that you truly do not know what’s going on in their head—even when you are “sure” you do.  If you’re assuming something about someone in your life, at least give him or her the courtesy of checking out your assumptions.  The worst that can happen is that they tell you you’re right—in which case it’s no longer an assumption, but a fact.  Know that when it comes to interpreting or assuming why others are doing or saying something our lens is clouded.  Our assumptions are highly negatively skewed and that negative slant greatly hurts our relationships.  Sometimes the behavior of others just simply isn’t about us or expectations of us.

Make room for a different story and check it out with the other person.  You may just be pleasantly surprised.

Written by Lisa Smith

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