In one of our past posts, we talked about some common communication mistakes, including making assumptions. Let’s dive a bit deeper into that. Have you ever been disappointed because someone wasn’t the way you thought they would be? or they didn’t do what you thought they’d do? Blame assumptions. Sometimes we assume correctly. But frequently, our assumptions let us down. We take mental short-cuts, assuming we know everything when we actually don’t. As you probably already know, assumptions can cripple your team.
For instance, Mike asks Casey to plan an office Christmas party. “She’s a party planner,” he thinks. “She’ll do a good job.” Casey proceeds to plan the party by booking a hip venue, a DJ, and a bartender. When Mike sees how much was charged to the company card, he’s furious. He assumed she would plan a small gathering in the office with streamers, punch, and a Santa photo booth, not an upscale, expensive party! He scolds Casey for her extravagance and for not following his instructions. What could have Mike done differently? In order to break the assumption habit, you have to start by asking yourself what you expect. Then, communicate those expectations clearly (preferably in writing) to whoever is responsible for the results. That way, there are no gray areas and no surprises.
In the above scenario, Mike wasn’t the only one at fault, though. Casey assumed she knew what her boss wanted (a fancy Christmas party.) She also assumed that she had a large budget. This was not true, and if she had asked Mike a couple questions such as, “What are your expectations? How do you want this party to look? Is there a budget I need to stick to?” she wouldn’t have made the mistakes she did. So in order to stop assuming you have to start listening carefully to what is being said. Sometimes it’s helpful to repeat the information you’ve been given and ask, “Did I understand you correctly? Is there anything I’m missing?”
If you don’t make a conscious effort to eradicate assumptions from your organization, you will find yourself regularly dealing with conflict. Your employees may get into arguments frequently because no one has taught them how to “wait to act until you have every fact.” You may have to put projects on hold or start over because someone assumed something incorrectly. Train yourself and your team how to stop assuming: contact Team Insight Plus today!