The Right Way To Be Wrong: Releasing Judgment, Assumptions, & Conclusions
2019 has been the year of “Release”! Each month, you are invited to intentionally cut loose what no longer serves you, and then re-lease helpful perspectives, protocols, practices and habits. The reward? How does living a more fulfilled and less frenzied life sound? Feel like you’re missing out? Ditch that FOMO and start releasing today.
For me personally, the experience year-to-date has been at once liberating, frustrating, humbling and at times hilarious (Thank goodness I’ve learned to laugh at myself!) The stories others have shared of their courage, tenacity, perspective and compassion during their journeys have also been inspiring.
This month, it’s time to address some tough stuff. I’m talking about releasing assumptions, judgment and conclusions. This is difficult because by investigating these three states, we are consenting to discovery of our own blind spots. In other words, we are perfectly aware, and sometimes even proud of our perfectionist tendencies and can accept the fact that people rely on us, which often results in not paying enough attention to self-care. Judgment, assumptions and conclusions have much in common with May’s release of Resistance in that we don’t even realize we’re resisting in the first place! Join me as I sort this out and blaze a path forward on the topic.
The Road To Bad Decisions
How’s this for reframing?:
“I get the opportunity to release the weighty states of judgment, assumption and conclusions by owning the fact that when I default to these thoughts, my vision becomes myopic and clouded, and I don’t make good decisions.”
Yikes! My first step this month is to admit that I’m wrong! That’s evolutionarily unacceptable! It seems counterintuitive, like steering into a skid on a snowy road.
Thankfully, admitting to being wrong isn’t usually lethal. But it can cause a psychological threat to safety, because these characteristics have also been direct contributors to our success in business. We’ve been taught both explicitly and unconsciously the importance of assumptions, encouraged to use our best judgment, and expected to come to sound conclusions. Reversing this outlook is our new challenge.
When these voluntary thought processes are not considered intentionally, bias can be quick to slip in, thrusting us into alternate worlds. These beliefs lead to feelings which lead to the actions that prompt 9 out of ten conversations to miss their mark!
To release these taxing and occasionally toxic versions of assumption/conclusion/judgment, start by calling them out. Step #1 is to address your bias. If you have a brain, you have bias. Think of this four-letter word as shorthand for “the lens through which you see the world”. Ethnicity, religion, social class, race, geographic location, gender, generation, and even birth order compose the lens. We each grow up in our own unique movie of existence, but the more curious and empathetic we dare to become, the more of the actual world we get to understand.
Judging A Book By Its Cover
Our biases are directly responsible for the first impressions we have of others. This is where assumptions can run amok. We can’t judge a book by its cover, but we still do! It only takes .07 seconds to make a first impression, which means that you’ve come to believe certain things about another person the moment you set eyes on them, without even realizing it. And others make impressions about you based on their biases. Some of these assumptions may be about your trustworthiness, while others are about your level of education, socioeconomic status, leadership ability, and even whether you’re an introvert or extrovert!
The ugly truth is that false first impressions take 8 or more (often FAR more) subsequent impressions to get reversed. It makes sense when you recognize how important it is for you to be right— which is something your subconscious fights to do once an impression has been made. It may explain why it takes years of perspective to recognize how awful an old boyfriend was or how mean your ex-best friend had acted toward you.
A BIG re-lease for mitigating assumptions is to be consciously aware of the power of executive presence— including its dark side. For instance, the most suavely dressed is not necessarily the smartest person in the room. Likewise, someone who looks disheveled may be poised in thought. Remember that time you were impressed by the way someone spoke, only to realize later that they didn’t lend anything of substance to the conversation? “When you assume,…..”
Adjusting For Emotional Blind Spots
I’ve made it a practice to check my biases at the door. I’ll begin to question, not assume, that I know how a topic or incident will make someone feel. Try this exercise: Close your eyes and identify how you feel when you think of a deer. What’s your emotional reaction? How does your body feel? Do you experience a joyous flutter in your heart imagining Bambi? Is it frustration and annoyance because deer always eat your shrubbery? Is it downright fear that floods your body, as you remember crashing into a deer on the highway in the autumn dusk? Is it a moment of excitement as your appetite stirs thinking about venison? Perhaps you imagine an afternoon of hunting in the woods.
Words resonate differently because they mean different things to different people. A great way to shed assumptions is to tune into your curiosity about how things make people feel, and not assume that you know. Like much of life, tuning into your curiosity is simple, but not easy. In the case of assumptions, it’s not easy because our natural tendency to judge often comes a heartbeat after making an assumption, and once judgment is in the picture, curiosity is stifled. This is what we’ll explore next week.
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