Welcome to the thirty-fourth edition of "In Touch". As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit "reply" and let me know what you think.
Story of the Week: Take Nothing for Granted
It was a bright sunny day and my mood was at an all-time high as my wife Christine and I made our way to our twins’ nursery school. Upon arrival, a young woman, whom I had not seen there before, peeked through the half-open kindergarden door and, turning to Christine, said, “Oh, you’ve come with the children’s grandfather today!”
My wife’s first instinct was – thank goodness! – to correct her. “With their father, not their grandfather!” she said, in a tone that suggested that it was quite obvious that I was her husband. Needless to say, the woman turned as red as a beetroot once she realised that she had made the wrong assumption.
We all make assumptions. This is as natural as breathing but, if they are mistaken, they can put us in an awkward spot, as happened in the case of my children’s kindergarten teacher or in that of a friend who once innocently (but foolishly) asked an obese but not pregnant woman when she was expecting her baby! Wrong assumptions are also made frequently in the business world, especially by sales professionals who mistakenly conclude that persuading a particular client to buy is impossible and so they don’t make the required effort.
Here are two ways in which we can challenge our own assumptions:
1. By moving out of our comfort zone and being as observant as possible
Many of our assumptions serve the purpose of keeping us in our comfort zone as a way to reduce anxiety. In other words, they act as barriers to new thinking or solutions. The great ‘escape king’ Harry Houdini once found himself as a passenger in a new car and he was unable to open the door on his own – the handle was in a different place from that of older models. Houdini joked: “I’ve escaped from practically every type of container and every size, shape, and weight of boxes, trunks, and other such things, but I wish someone would tell me how I can get out of this darned automobile!” One simple design change had stymied the master.
2. By asking questions
Questions lead to answers, which move us away from assumptions. When the US company Home Depot launched its do-it-yourself (DIY) store in China, it bombed. The company discovered much too late that people in China tend not to like the DIY concept and so, as a result, they didn’t visit Home Depot’s stores. Had the owners done some basic research (i.e., asked the right questions), they would have saved themselves a lot of money and not dented their reputation.
Similarly, a simple two-word question by the woman at the nursery school – “The gentleman?” – would have spared her blushes and embarrassment.
It's hard not to make assumptions but if we want to avoid embarrassment or worse, it’s worth asking questions and, above all, taking nothing for granted.
Words of Wisdom
Why we are making assumptions:
"We make all sorts of assumptions because we don't have the courage to ask questions."
Miguel Angel Ruiz
A Question to Ponder, dear friend.
“When have you encountered a situation where another person was making the wrong assumptions about you? How did it make you feel?”
Hit reply and let me know.
- We are excited to announce that now that we are bringing back our popular public speaking workshop "Address for Success™" in just a few weeks from today. Click here for more info and tickets.
- Looking for more inspiration? Check this short extract from our last Jump-Start Monday episode on the different personality archetypes.
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Michael R. Virardi