It's Better to Ask than to Assume

communication personal growth Apr 12, 2023

Making assumptions is an easy way to avoid asking potentially embarrassing or difficult questions. However, this can lead to some very undesirable outcomes. It's always better to ask the right questions and get accurate information rather than make assumptions and hope for the best. This blog post will discuss the importance of asking questions to achieve better results.

Why do we like making assumptions?

Some of us like making assumptions. When we assume, we like to think that something will happen according to what we perceive. Things can happen according to what we believe, or they may go the other way around. Assumptions can form from previous experiences, which make us think that something will happen the same way again, or they can be pure guesses on what we believe will turn out. The problem comes when we start acting based on false assumptions we may not realize. For example, we may get disappointed when results don't turn out how we thought they would, and this can prove disastrous in the workplace when we do something without asking first, assuming we are doing the right thing. In other situations, we may say or do something based on our assumed knowledge, which can put us in trouble if others get affected by our actions and decisions.

Asking questions is what can counter making assumptions. However, some hesitate to do so; instead, some will immediately do or say something based on assumptions. So what makes it difficult for some of us to ask questions and proceed with what we want to do?

  • We may be too shy or afraid to ask another person, so we go ahead with whatever we want to say or do. The person we could have asked could be someone we are not that close with, or they could be someone who holds higher status or reputation than you, such as your boss in the workplace. Due to these, we can do something independently without asking permission or consulting with the person we need to.
  • Some people don't take kindly when somebody asks them too many questions. Knowing that such a personality exists, some may hesitate and fear asking questions from such people, especially if it's someone with higher authority than you. In a workplace setting, people with such personalities who lead others may want their people to discover and learn things for themselves, which could be why they don't entertain questions much. However, this can lead to people committing improper actions that can cost the company.
  • Having judgmental behavior can lead one to assume anything frequently. Making judgments are based on first impressions and what we immediately see without understanding the context or story behind what we judge. So a judgmental person can quickly say something about someone or something, leading to problematic situations if what we said or perceived is false.
  • Laziness contributes to why we may not like to ask questions first. Sometimes, we may feel like going ahead with what we want to do and don't seek permission from someone who supervises or have some form of authority over us.
  • Pride can sometimes get in the way of having proper communication with others. We may not be on good terms with someone or think of others indifferently, so we go ahead with our actions without consulting the people affected by what we do or say. With pride, we may not care about what could happen later, so we go ahead to do or say what we want.

We should still always consider the proper answers and other possibilities.

While making assumptions is not wrong as long as we keep them within ourselves, acting upon them is when things can get troublesome. For example, we may have the wrong idea about something, which makes us do or say something undesirable to others. We may also get disappointed if we keep assuming things will go our way since reality may otherwise say so. Asking questions and seeking clarifications can make a difference if we only take the initiative and are willing to ask. Whenever we are unsure of something and need to do or say something about it, it's better to ask for a proper answer and clarification about the truth. There are various benefits to doing so.

  • When we ask questions before doing something, things can get clarified, giving us a clear picture of what we need to do. In a workplace setting, this can involve team leaders or supervisors providing clear instructions on what people should do and giving guidance or suggestions on what should be done. Never assume or do something independently without understanding all the ideas, or at least most, about what you need to do.
  • Seeking clarification and understanding things help remove prejudice. When we understand others better and know their origin, we can prevent ourselves from making hasty judgments based only on one instance of action or decision we see from others. This can lead to improved relationships between people.
  • Asking questions is a way for us to learn and improve. Unless we ask, we may never know if something can happen or be provided. Asking is essential when we want feedback if we are doing the right thing, especially at work. If you wish to obtain something, try asking someone, and you may be surprised at what people can give or teach you. We may be able to learn new things in addition to what we know if we only ask.
  • Failures and disappointments can be reduced if things are clear to us. But unfortunately, some of our losses and failures can happen because everything may not be apparent to us, and we assume things. Disappointments can occur when thinking things too optimistically, and we have no clear basis for something good to happen. However, by understanding and having things clear, we can set our expectations right and take the proper course of action to ensure success.

While we may sometimes think that we are right and know about things already, what we imagine or think about may not be correct. Things can always change and turn out differently from what we expect. We can always guess something, but if something can be affected significantly by our actions based on an assumption, it's better to clarify things to prevent making false conclusions and influencing others. Asking is a pretty simple act, and whatever reason we may have for not asking, we can always do something about them to get the proper answer and ideas we need. Clarifying and asking don't make you look uneducated but show your willingness to learn and concern for others so that your actions and decisions will be executed appropriately.

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