As a business and career coach, one of my standing commitments is to challenge client’s assumptions. We all have them. Including moi-même.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. ~ Alan Alda
As a coach, I challenge the client’s assumptions by asking lots of questions to deepen their awareness.
Inquiries are analogous to Brillo Pads. Questioning helps the client scrub their assumptions.
Here are a few client assumption challenging stories:
* Boomer client came to me unfulfilled with his career. For years his assumption was to stay in a job that handsomely paid the light bill and didn’t light him up. I challenged his assumptions and asked introspective questions. In three months he landed the dream gig of his life, plans to write a book, take volunteerism to a new level, and start a consulting business down the road.
* Entrepreneur client thought he would need to wait over a year, possibly two, before he could move his family to Sweden. I challenged his assumptions and asked about next steps. He planted a seed, took action, and the universe responded. He and his wife and son landed in Sweden last week. They’ve started their new life, years ahead of schedule. Lycka till !
* Sales professional client was working at a company where the turnover was akin to the burger flippin help at McDonald’s. A salesperson making quota here was as uncommon as rain in the Sahara. In addition, every day my client was hounded by his pit bull manager. I ran a TriMetrix HD Assessment on the client to understand their behaviors and motivators. I challenged the client’s assumptions. In a short period of time, he made his number.
As a coach, I’m always challenging the client’s assumptions. This doesn’t mean they don’t understand their business, job, etc. Most of my client’s know exactly what they’re doing. They’re already successful.
My questions puts the client in a different place. I empower them with high def 3D glasses to see their world from a different angle. This enables the client to hop on board a high speed rail and arrive at their endgame, quicker.
What assumption windows are you willing to climb to and scrub?
The Importance of Really Knowing – by Steve Keating
It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain
As with many of the quotes from Mark Twain the one above is spot on!
Poor listening is the biggest cause of poor communication and assuming is the biggest cause of poor listening.
We assume we know the answers to questions before we even ask them so there is little need to actually listen to the answer. Oftentimes we don’t even bother with the question, we just assume we know stuff that just ain’t so. Leaders assume the “mood” of their organizations. Salespeople assume the needs of their prospects and customers. Husbands and wives assume the wants and needs of their spouses.
There is a whole lot of assuming going on all around you. Odds are, you’re doing a lot of the assuming yourself. The odds are even greater that many of the assumptions are just plain wrong.
Yet we act on them as if they were fact.
Businesses fail, sales deals are lost and marriages ended all based on assumptions. Everyone knows the dangers of assuming yet everyone, or most everyone, continues to endlessly assume.
Here is the biggest challenge for people from all walks of life: the longer you’ve been doing something the more assumptions you make about it. You begin to rely too much on your experience; you assume that what once was will always be. You assume that the future is just an extension of the past. You assume you “know” simply because you’ve always “known.”
Leaders won’t verify their assumptions for fear of looking out of touch or downright stupid. Salespeople fail to ask enough questions because they assume their prospect wouldn’t give them the information they seek.
Many people just prefer decisions based their assumptions rather than dealing with the facts. When they hold on to their assumptions long enough the assumptions in fact actually replace the truth – this is known as denial. A wise person will never ever underestimate the incredible power of denial.
All the information you need to learn, grow, succeed, and to stop assuming is available for the taking. You only have to stop assuming long enough to reach for it. You need to ask questions and really LISTEN to the answers. You need to open your mind and take nothing for granted. The only assumption that is safe to make is the assumption that all other assumptions are wrong.
Successful people learn something new every day, the most successful people re-learn something old every week. They understand that just because something was true once doesn’t mean that it’s still true today. They invest the time to really know.
Challenge your assumptions, every assumption, and prepare yourself to succeed in everything you do.
Photo by Jens Aaarstein Holm.