In yesterday’s blog, Do Not Assume, we explored the danger of assuming you know something about a situation or situations without making direct inquiries. Someone I knew had commented to me about an assumption he’d made regarding a friend’s (let’s call him Don) current challenge.
Because of confidentiality, I couldn’t reassure him that Don was, in fact, doing extremely well and in a very positive place about reinventing himself. I couldn’t even suggest that instead of talking to me about his concerns that he might want to call Don directly and check in to see how he is doing. It was a glaring example of how assuming that someone’s life is a certain way is not helpful on any level.
In reality, Dave has made sacrifices, moving back in with his parents and taking part time jobs as he continues to pursue a full time position. Instead of expensive dinners out and what was becoming a pattern of too many drinks at the end of the day, he now spends his evenings working out and attending a cooking class. Dave doesn’t like to worry his friends so he’s been laying low. We did visit the importance of staying connected and the value of a support network.
When we spend time making assumptions or interpreting a situation or a person’s circumstances and sharing that with anyone but that person, it is, to me, a waste of energy. Invest this time instead on touching base directly and making a genuine inquiry into how they are doing. This is even more important when we have an issue with someone else. Talking to a third party will not resolve it and, in fact, can inflame the situation. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to explain or correct something that was said or done creates an opportunity to deepen the relationship.
Choosing responsible communication over gossip elevates us and others. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
*All the identifying factors have been altered to protect confidentiality.