Avoiding Assumptions = Improved Communication!
Written by: Raquel Martinez, MSW
One of the main and most common ways that people fail to communicate is by making assumptions. We have all done it! We assume based on what we think is true – based on our own beliefs/ prior experiences. For example, you might be on a date and you assume that you are expected to pay for the meal. The trash is full, and you assume your partner will take it out. Your daughter gives you a short response to your question and you assume she is giving you attitude. These are assumptions and assumptions are shortcuts to communication.
Assumptions can be derived from different sources such as, laziness, bias, and anxiety. Laziness: Communication takes effort. People are often running through the motions and not being in the moment during communication. Be present and in the moment! Bias: Biases may lead us to believe we understand something or someone when we really do not – entirely. You must take the time to confirm that you are both on the same page – you will be surprised how easy it is to engage in a conversation with someone using the same words to convey entirely different meanings and concepts. We all have a different worldview and it truly comes into play in communication. Anxiety: Anxiety can make communication challenging. Anxiety leads to overthinking and therefore make assumptions.
A few key pointers to remember to improve our communication:
- Listen: We often forget that listening is one of the most important parts of communication. Be in the moment, be present, and listen!
- Ask a lot of questions: Do not assume what the other person might mean or refer to, ask! For example, “am I understanding you correctly”, “Is this what you mean [repeat what they said]”, “I am assuming [state what you are assuming]”. This will clear up so many questions/assumptions and avoid conflict.
- Slow down: Take a deep breath and listen. You can spare an extra minute or two to make sure you understand where someone is coming from.
And remember, improved communication = reduced conflict in relationships!
Written By: Raquel Martinez, MSW, Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker 91884 under the supervision of Nancy Ruiz-Barnes, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker 79552