Assuming

What is assuming? Assuming is defined as the act of taking for granted, or supposing a thing without proof.

What I plan to mention today is why assumptions are made and whether they should be made in the first place. Here is something i read online some time ago.

What follows is an excerpt from the same.

The question “Why do people assume?” makes the following assumptions:

1) That people assume

2) That we all have a shared understanding of what assuming entails

3) That we’ll interpret assume as “to take as certain”, instead of “to undertake” (as in assume a role)

The question at hand assumes that the truth of the proposition – that we assume – is beyond debate or question. However, through logic and reasoning, we can establish that we have to make assumptions in order to communicate effectively.

We must be aware of the assumptions that we make. Our aim should be to try to make as few poor assumptions as possible. Then feedback and clarification can be employed in the communication process to correct biased or incorrect assumptions. For the purpose of this article, I will assume that people need to make assumptions in order to communicate and interact. Here are possible reasons for this:

1) It facilitates communication by language: Communication is a process which involves at least two persons. Since we all do not have the same ideas, language is a standard which forces us to use common shared symbols and language. When we communicate via any language or code, we generally assume that the receiver will interpret the meaning in the manner that we intended. We assume that the symbols and references that we use mean the same thing to the receiver.

2) It helps us to understand non-verbal communication: Non-verbal communication is notoriously difficult to decode. If someone looks at his watch, this may signal disinterest to the person he’s talking to. However, depending on how it was done, it could mean that he was just making sure he has plenty time to continue the delightful conversation without being late for an important meeting. Making an assumption one way or the other (usually intuitively) helps us understand complex non-verbal signals that may be awkward or uncomfortable to clarify.

3) We “fill in the blanks” by assuming: Research has shown that we can understand words that are improperly formed or that we don’t process every word we listen to. In some cases, someone may use a few words in a sentence that we do not know. As we may have no dictionary nearby, we use context cues to understand the intended meaning of the message.

4) It is a good defense mechanism: We can preserve our view of the world and our self-esteem by making assumptions. “I did badly on the test because of the headache I had the day before”. You’re making an attribution that assumes a causal link between your performance and the headache. This way, you don’t have to feel like a dunce.

5) It makes us confident and comfortable: I’m walking with my head high, brimming with confidence. I assume that there’s no banana peel on the sidewalk to look out for. In making assumptions, we have to place trust in certain things and people. We assume that some of our friends are trustworthy enough to divulge our secrets to. Assumptions help us forge relationships with people who would have otherwise remained strangers.

We might or might not like to assume, but it’s highly likely that we do it often enough. We should focus on making assumptions that are logical and could be validated. We simply cannot do without assumptions. However, we can still make a lot of wrong assumptions. To avoid misunderstandings that arise from the natural process of assuming, we must use feedback and clarification to ensure that we made good assumptions.

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