by Skip Cohen
I remember hearing that statement for the first time around seventh grade and it's still so deadly accurate. I know it's trite and right up there with my grandmother's stitch in time saves nine, but Sunday morning's are for fun but purposeful little rants and it's so appropriate this morning.
The topic is all about making assumptions and I've written about it before. We all do it, some more than others. We do it in our personal lives, business, on events for the future and on decisions from the past. The big question is, why don’t we ever simply pick up a phone and talk to the people involved instead of coming to our own, often misguided, assumptions?
Wandering through cyber space a long time ago I found the following on a site by Ken Lauher:
"We have a tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we BELIEVE they are the truth. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking, we take it personally, and then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word.
We only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are; we literally dream things up in our imagination. Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions that we believe are right, then we defend our assumptions and try to make others wrong."
In the photo industry there are people who have taken assumption drawing to an art form. I’ve heard stories about major companies in trouble, cameras being discontinued, even people being let go. I’ve heard stories so severe that had they been more widespread, the companies involved would have actually seen a drop in sales.
Then there are the personal stories that run through our industry. Assumptions are drawn over why somebody left a company, why a new product was late for introduction, why a policy was changed and the list goes on and on. Assumptions are drawn, then they hit the rumor mill and suddenly they’re FACT - and not once does anybody along the way stop and simply call the people involved for verification.
Last on the list, there are the personal assumptions made in our own lives. I've got a whole collection of finger-pointing relatives who love to talk amongst themselves, but they do it better than Mike Meyer's character has ever done it! Not once have they ever talked to me directly. The final result sets a new standard in self-righteousness and judgmental behavior.
But here's where you shining stars all come in...I'm blown away by the support given to each other on the various forums. I love watching the conversation unfold on the Facebook page for Skip's Summer School when somebody has heard something and puts it out there to the group. I love what guys like Jason Eiting has done on his own time to build a Google+ hangout for photographers needing help, or the enthusiasm of the new Student Council for SCU as Chantale, Tamara, Brook, Jason, Brent, Jared and Levi all share ideas and ask the questions they need to get all the facts. The only assumptions I see people like this drawing are based on the confidence that the answers are out there.
Well, to everyone who draws assumptions, and we’re all guilty. The earlier quote is from The FourAgreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and his closing paragraph on the topic hits the nail right on the head:
"The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be. Once you hear the answer, you will not have to make assumptions because you will know the truth."
Illustration credit: © Gulekk | Dreamstime.com