We all have our own assumptions. That’s given. Our assumptions are based from a series of trial-and-error experiences. Time teaches us that assumptions are assumptions because they are assumptions. A hypothesis, an expectation, a supposition – there’s a long list of words in the thesaurus. But these beliefs or presumptions share one characteristic – they require validation.

To hold on to a set of assumptions is expected. Relying on them, is quite reckless. Assumptions give us something to work, to build on. It’s not something we completely rely on especially when we are making important decisions.

Having similar assumptions within a group is not a means of validation. We validate assumptions by asking questions from people outside our immediate group. Failing to learn validation of assumptions result to wasted time and effort.

A common belief is that as long as you find that people share one’s assumption, it’s already validated. The news is, the group one is part of does not represent the world. Bluntly put, a group’s assumptions on what is “acceptable” may not be shared by other groups.

The issue is not about whose assumptions are right or wrong, better or worse. One of the basic skills communicators need to learn is to recognize the differences between the assumptions of different groups, to be able to identify the good things from each set of assumptions, and come up with a better idea/concept/output at the end of the day. That is how we learn.

This isn’t a contest on whose idea is better. It’s not a yes-or-no case. Assumptions are not mutually exclusive. It takes greater maturity to focus on the strengths of varying ideas, and greater skill to develop an idea based on the strengths or the best things out of existing versions.

It’s expected for people to want to simplify things into yours and mine, right or wrong. It’s also expected that people, when given negative feedback tend to focus more at finding faults in source of the negative feedback than concentrate on the comments for improvement provided. These were some of my assumptions at the start of the semester. Expected, but  I had hoped people would react differently. I had hoped they’d prove me wrong.

In the end, I found myself in a very familiar situation. You get the blame for not sharing their assumptions. You’re at fault for setting a standard for what is acceptable. You’re at fault because you give vague instructions. The whole thing’s delayed because it’s mostly your fault.

I am aware that I’m not fault-free. In every output submitted late, any conflict or difference in opinion, any misunderstanding  – it is never the fault of just one party. When students perform less than the minimum standard or behave in an unprofessional manner, we, instructors think about what we may have done wrong or not have done.

From this semester, my greatest failure is not the delay of an output or the breaking apart of a group of people who used to used to take delight in one anothers’ presence. It’s being not able to put across  that people cannot work on assumptions alone – no matter how many individuals may share it.  I failed to instill the basic practice of repeated validation or confirmation among these individuals.

Again, these are my existing assumptions. I’m still in the process of validating them. From what I have gathered, all I’ve been getting are confirmations.


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