We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and keep us moving forward. Or so we think.
- We assume a person attended or didn’t attend an event because…
- We assume a person responded to us a certain way, because…
- We assume a person took an action or didn’t take an action because…
What if instead of assuming, we, as CEO’s and leaders, paused and asked:
- What is the reason you made this choice or took this action?
- When your customer complains about “service”, do you probe to understand what is really going on?
- When we see something, as the TSA reminds us, do we say something?
- When an employee behaves a certain way, do we ask what is going on?
When I was a young driver, I learned this leadership lesson from a police officer who pulled me over for passing him on the right, when he and another officer were stopped – blocking both sides of the road. He asked me why I passed him. My response was “I assumed you were going to be there for a while and I wanted to get to my destination”. His reply, “When you assume, you make an ass-u-me”.
I often think of this encounter when I rush to judgement.