I read a book about 10 years ago called “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Freedom” * by Don Miguel Ruiz and Peter Coyote. In the book, they talk about the way that you can create love and happiness in your life by living these agreements. The agreements are:
- To be impeccable with your word – speak with integrity and use words that really say what you mean. You are judged by the words that you use, so ensure that they are the right ones.
- Don’t take anything personally – there is nothing that others do that is because of you. When people say things that are critical, it may be just their own fear that they are projecting on to you.
- Don’t make assumptions – communicate clearly and ask clarifying questions to avoid misunderstandings
- Always do your best – whatever you are doing, just make sure that you are doing your best at it every day. You will never have to question what could have been different or have any regrets.
The third agreement to “not make assumptions” is the most challenging one when we have personal and professional conversations. We all bring various experiences and beliefs that impact how we see things when we talk to people. It can be hard to stop assumptions, because your mind makes a snap judgment based on a situation that may have occurred in the past. However, your current belief may be based on some old data. Is this old data relevant anymore? This is a question that will need to be answered.
Why is it important to avoid making assumptions? This quote sums it up well: “We look for things that confirm our beliefs, but what if they are wrong? Keep an open mind and ask when in doubt.” Be an active listener when you have conversations with people. Assume that their intent is positive and that what they are telling you is true. Ask them clarifying questions to ensure that you are making decisions based on the most up to date information. If you incorporate these changes into your thinking before your conversations, you will avoid assumptions, remove confusion and ensure that you have communication with people that changes your personal and professional life.
* This is an affiliate link for Amazon. I may receive a small commission if you purchase this book. I only do this for products that I have found to be helpful for me and may be of benefit to others.
Receive my leadership blog in your inbox each weekday morning focused on your personal development and actionable ways to help you grow your leadership!