Assuming is dangerous. Fortunately, a combination of curiosity plus a willingness to ask questions can reduce the potential for unnecessary negative situations to occur.
The third agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz's classic book, The Four Agreements, is Don't Make Assumptions.
"Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong."
He then adds:
"It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering."
My fiancé and I have begun planning our wedding. I'm very grateful that she has taken the lead in organizing and getting us on track.
However, it would be wrong of me to assume that she's doing this planning because she wants to as it's possible that might not be the case. It would be a real bummer to learn after the wedding that she didn't actually want to do this planning but only did so because I was slow to act.
However, I decided to lead with curiosity and simply asked, "Are you okay and open to leading the planning of our wedding?" She replied yes and we now have that clarity. Asking that question also led to a healthy discussion of how I can support this process so that we can make this wedding happen in a stress-free way.
Since the idea for this article planted in my consciousness, I've noticed just how many opportunities we have each day to check assumptions, not only in relation to others, but in what we believe to be true.
Combining the third agreement with the virtue of curiosity has led me to communicate better with Andie, my co-workers, and with myself.
Be curious and avoid the danger of making assumptions.