• Case 1 : I was attending a leadership development programme with 23 other participants a year ago. On the second day, we were asked to go through a peer consultation process by groups of 5. One of them spent most of his time checking his phone. It got the rest of us pretty nervous and upset.
  • Case 2: As I was heading for a client meeting, the client called me on the phone and outrageously asserted that the meeting was dismissed and that there were no reasons for us to meet anymore… She hung up abruptly.
  • Case 3: As I was sitting with a peer during a 1:1 meeting, my peer offered me some feedback which got us into a fierce conversation for about 2 hours…

What’s the common denominator in all these cases? 

We all fail to check our assumptions before coming to any conclusion. We didn’t ask any question and got into some kind of reaction that was, for us, already a conclusion on its own. We started the conversation with the conclusion, not the discovery…

In case 1, the poor guy didn’t master English and was simply checking an online dictionary to translate some of the words we were using. He was trying his best to follow the conversation but failed to communicate around that… It is only on day 3 of the programme that we discovered this simple truth.

In case 2, the client didn’t know that her assistant rescheduled the meeting one hour later and thought I was disrespectful by not showing up on time to the meeting… I got an email from her 2 weeks later saying how sorry she was. The RFP deadline was already passed…

In case 3, my colleague offered me some feedback based on wrong assumptions and failed to ask if the events he was referring to were accurate. It took him an hour to refer back to those events which allowed us to spot the misunderstanding…

My request to the world: check your assumption first, then assert, provide feedback, or give your conclusion.

If you fail to follow this process — as the vast majority of us fail to do on a daily basis — you’ll upset others in ways that could have been avoided in the first place. The cost of this little game in the corporate environment and at home is simply… huge!

What happens if you try?

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