You’ve heard the old adage, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. This became crystal clear to me when I participated in a recent “intensive” training with my coaching institute. I’ll explain.
Coaches were invited to “deliver” undelivered communications with one another. “Stuff” that was in the air, preventing us from being fully present, trusting and connecting as individuals and as a community. We were told to listen and have our only response be: “Thank you, I’ve received your communication”.
One of my fellow coaches, who I did not yet know, walked up to me and told me that she felt discounted, ignored by me. I had left her behind in the airport in DC. She was sure I didn’t have time for her because I am one of the “old” experienced coaches and I couldn’t be bothered. Well, these weren’t her exact words, but you get the drift. I was horrified, mostly because I was unconscious of any snub. Mostly I was feeling like she just didn’t like me. I responded to this non-verbal communication in the airport by giving her space and reminding myself that not everyone is going to like me.
Assume. We project our own fears and insecurities on each other and assume we know what the other is thinking and feeling.
It was liberating to clean this up. Later when I had my turn, I shared with her that I thought she just didn’t like me. Later still when this exercise was over, we shared with one another and the group how amazing it was that we could be so WRONG!
I decided to look at where I make assumptions and how many of them MUST BE WRONG! How can I possibly know what another person is thinking or feeling? I flunked mind-reading in my woo-woo, New Age, wanna-be-a-clairvoyant days, so what makes me think I know ANYTHING? I can barely attest to my own thoughts and feelings, let alone yours!
I took this a step further. I committed to say HELLO to everyone in my dance class this morning. I have had greetings and conversations with about half of the class and decided that the other women “just don’t like me”. And, of course, that’s okay, there’s no rule that says I need to be liked! I got to class early and greeted everyone who came in. Except for one woman, who looked at me like I have two heads, everyone said HELLO or GOOD MORNING in response to me and smiled. It was exhilerating! And FUN!
I love my dance class. It is my favorite exercise hour of the week and I am always smiling and laughing. But this morning was extraordinary. I felt a connection to everyone (even the woman with double vision) and felt more playful and energetic than usual! My little three-year-old dancer inside me felt FREE to flit around the room like a butterfly.
I have a new practice. Eliminate assumptions from my life. Assumptions keep me from being connected to others. Debbie Ford says, “Knowing is the booby prize”. I close myself off to possibility when I assume. Nothing new can step through the door when I think I know, because I’ve locked the door with assumption.
When I assume I really DO make an ass out of you and me!