The good and bad of assumptions


There are good and bad assumptions.

Good assumptions are reasonable, based in fact, and help us make decisions more swiftly. These are called “safe” assumptions. For example, if it’s snowing outside then assuming it will take you longer to get to a meeting helps you to get there on time.

Bad assumptions may sound reasonable or may seem to be based in fact, but are often the result of ignorance or lazy thinking. For example, assuming that someone who walks funny or uses a wheelchair is stupid is an unfortunate assumption many people make.

I notice someone assumes I’m dumb when they start talking to the people I am with instead of me — for example, they might ask my friends, “Will this table be alright for him?”

I love it when my friends and family chime in with, “Why don’t you ask him?” It makes the person think about what they just did and might change their mind in the future.

I used to get upset when someone assumed something about me that was not true. Over time, however, this helped me to appreciate the things I have done that go far beyond those assumptions — my education, my talents, my achievements. When given the chance to disprove someone’s assumptions about me, I take it. But when I don’t have that chance, I just laugh inside and feel sorry that the person has no idea what they’re missing out on.

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