“The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting go of them.” – John Seely Brown
Have you ever wondered how your assumptions cloud your judgment? Or how they have affected your assessment of a person or a situation? Do you ever question whether your assumptions are healthy or beneficial to your mindset? Making assumptions is part of your natural thinking process. That doesn’t mean you can hide behind them all your life. Let’s talk about how this affects you and your work and how letting go of assumptions can improve the quality of your work with clients.
What Are Assumptions?
Google defines it as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “a willingness to accept something as true without question or proof.”
These definitions alone show that the problem is staring you in the face. Assumptions put up walls in your thoughts. When you hold on to an assumption believing it is the truth, it hinders your ability to listen and understand what your client is saying, which can stall a client’s progress to true recovery.
People grow up with different experiences, beliefs, and values. As a result, opinions and assumptions are based on one’s thought process growing up. The information you’ve gathered through childhood supports your belief system. So when there’s a need to change, breaking down that wall is a feat.
Connected to the Past
What many do not realize is that when you let your assumptions take over how you think and feel, it shows how connected to the past you are. You are not moving forward, instead, holding on to ideas and beliefs that need letting go.
Holding on to assumptions can be a hindrance in your line of work. Instead of listening to what your clients have to say, your assumptions may become the forefront of your thoughts. It may also force you to make an unnecessary judgment right off the bat. Assumptions box and limit you; they’re restricting and would be unfair to your clients.
Yet, somehow, you may refuse to let go of your assumptions because you believe you’re taking away something from yourself, and you’re not ready for that. And for some people, they’re willing to hold on to those assumptions until they’ve proven them to be true, just to say “they were right all along.” As you can see, it becomes about you and not about your client.
Dig In and Uncover the Truth
Everyone is different. Everyone has their narratives and stories — each one unique from each other. You can’t simply assume what your client is trying to say because it is your responsibility to understand exactly what they’re saying.
Ask as many questions as you need to assess different angles. It’s always easier to follow your assumptions than to dig in and go through what the client is saying. It is your responsibility to hear, understand, and help them to the best of your abilities. They deserve nothing less than that.
Your imagination is much more powerful than you know. It can get out of hand if you let it. Cast aside your assumptions or what you assume is the truth. In our profession, where building relationships with our clients is crucial, there’s no room for assumptions or guesses, instead, there is room for clarity and harmony. Only when you start letting go of assumptions can you be truly free from setting limitations in your mind and work with a client to the best of your ability.