It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain
As with many of the quotes from Mark Twain the one above is spot on! Poor listening is the biggest cause of poor communication and assuming is the biggest cause of poor listening.
We assume we know the answers to questions before we even ask them so there is little need to actually listen to the answer. Oftentimes we don’t even bother with the question, we just assume we know stuff that just ain’t so. Leaders assume the “mood” of their organizations. Salespeople assume the needs of their prospects and customers. Husbands and wives assume the wants and needs of their spouses.
There is a whole lot of assuming going on all around you. Odds are, you’re doing a lot of the assuming yourself. The odds are even greater that many of the assumptions are just plain wrong.
Yet we act on them as if they were fact.
Businesses fail, sales deals are lost and marriages ended all based on assumptions. Everyone knows the dangers of assuming yet everyone, or most everyone, continues to endlessly assume.
Here is the biggest challenge for people from all walks of life: the longer you’ve been doing something the more assumptions you make about it. You begin to rely too much on your experience; you assume that what once was will always be. You assume that the future is just an extension of the past. You assume you “know” simply because you’ve always “known.”
Leaders won’t verify their assumptions for fear of looking out of touch or downright stupid. Salespeople fail to ask enough questions because they assume their prospect wouldn’t give them the information they seek.
Many people just prefer decisions based their assumptions rather than dealing with the facts. When they hold on to their assumptions long enough the assumptions in fact actually replace the truth – this is known as denial. A wise person will never ever underestimate the incredible power of denial.
All the information you need to learn, grow, succeed, and to stop assuming is available for the taking. You only have to stop assuming long enough to reach for it. You need to ask questions and really LISTEN to the answers. You need to open your mind and take nothing for granted. The only assumption that is safe to make is the assumption that all other assumptions are wrong.
Successful people learn something new everyday, the most successful people re-learn something old every week. They understand that just because something was true once doesn’t mean that it’s still true today. They invest the time to really know.
Challenge your assumptions, every assumption, and prepare yourself to succeed in everything you do.