A little girl was watching her mother prepare a fish for dinner. Her mother cut the head and tail off the fish and then placed it into a baking pan. The little girl asked her mother why she cut the head and tail off the fish. Her mother thought for a while and then said, "I've always done it that way that's how grandma did it."
Not satisfied with the answer, the little girl went to visit her grandma to find out why she cut the head and tail off the fish before baking it.
Grandma thought for a while and replied, "I don't know. My mother always did it that way."
So the little girl and the grandma went to visit great grandma to find out if she knew the answer.
Great grandma thought for a while and said, “because my baking pan was too small to fit in the whole fish”.
Each member of the family had assumed that must have been the best way to cook fish. There was no questioning.
We’ve all heard how we shouldn’t make assumptions but it is very hard not too! We are hard-wired to make them. We assume the best way to take on a task, we assume what will happen in our day and we assume what people are thinking.
The issue is that a lot of the time our assumptions are wrong. We fill in the blanks with our interpretation of what we see or hear, which comes from our past experiences and our beliefs.
While it’s good to assume certain things, like walking down a dark street on your own in the middle of the night is dangerous, a lot of our assumptions could keep us stuck with a world view that is not helping us. We can easily misinterpret situations.
Where in our lives don’t we question the stuff we do?
I’ve recently finished watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (it’s great, if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend). Mr Darcy is rude and pretentious and people decide to keep their distance from him. Spoiler alert, he turns out to be loving and kind.
So how can we ensure that we are not making assumptions?
Here are my top tips:
When you notice yourself making an assumption about someone or a situation, stop and reflect. What beliefs am I using to make my conclusion? Could there be another meaning?
2 Get curious.
We can’t always know what people are thinking so don’t be afraid to ask what someone meant. It works with asking yourself questions too – why am I doing something a certain way? Make sure what you are assuming is correct, be okay with getting it wrong.
3. Get used to changing how you do things and think about things. You’re human after all!
I’d love to know what assumptions you have made that have turned out not to be true. Let me know in the comments below.