“When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME”
Never as true as in my last experiences at work.
In the past months, I’ve been in different situations where I realized HOW IMPORTANT the details are. And more than the detail itself, is the fact of TALKING about those details.
When you agree something with your colleagues, your customer or your supplier, in most of the cases is NOT 100% clear. There is always a place for doubts. The problem is that these doubts do not pop-up at the moment of the agreement, but in a later stage: when all the possible questions come up to your mind. The agreement at that moment doesn’t look so clear as it originally was. The interesting thing during this doubting-phase, is the creativity we develop in answering our own questions with our own assumptions.
WHY don’t we ask to the other party whether our assumptions are correct?
- Is there a fear of feeling embarrassed BECAUSE OF ASKING?
- Because your assumptions are so LOGICALLY AND OBVIOUSLY correct?
- Because you asked to ANOTHER PERSON instead?
All the reasons above apply to my experiences and just because I did NOT ask I had to pay a price!
When you continue working based on YOUR assumptions, you might end up into different situations, and depending on the case, it will be sooner or later.
In my case, a misunderstanding moment came up when I was presenting my results. In alignment with the reasons above, let me share my experiences:
Fear of feeling embarrassed
“Better a moment of shame than a life of ignorance”
I would have preferred one-minute of shame by asking at an earlier stage, than being in such an important moment and realize that my assumptions were far from reality.
The embarrassment was, in either way, a FACT. But in different proportion and impact.
Since I have learned my lesson, I use the following email to shoot my questions:
“Hello [ACCOUNT PARTY],
Related to [TOPIC IN QUESTION], I would like to double-check the following:
Sorry if I bring this up again, but I can’t find the conclusions in my notes or in previous emails.
Thank you in advance for your feedback,
Short, sweet and to the point… 🙂
I have tested it in the past weeks and so far, no bad reactions at all. I could get my answers and, in some cases, I got extra details to continue working in the RIGHT direction.
“The greatest obstacle for growth is the illusion for knowledge”
Let your ego aside!
If your assumptions are correct, WHAT do you have to lose by asking for confirmation?
I understand that you have experience and all these years doing your job gives you the authority to assume some things and (maybe) decide on behalf of your customer. But remember, every customer has his/her own expectations and what for YOU is logical and obvious, for him/her may NOT be.
For this case, I use the same template above and in the [QUESTIONS…] section I set my assumptions in a statement format, the account party responds Yes or No and adds details if necessary.
Asking to another person
Let me ask you something: is that person the RIGHT source of information? Is she/he directly affected by the decisions you’ll take based on your assumptions?
If not… you know already my suggestion: ASK to the RIGHT person.
Notice that when you ASK, new questions or topics may pop up. If these become more extended than you expected, email is not the best way to tackle… organize a call or a separate meeting with the people involved.
ASKING was not so “unnecessary” after all, eh!?
One last thing:
If you are aware of an important detail that should be mentioned, don’t wait too long: the longer you wait, the bigger the snowball you create.
Remember… details MATTER!
PS: SHARE this article with anyone that attempts to assume instead of asking!
Hasta la próxima,