Joan, the town gossip and supervisor of the town's morals recently accused George, a local man, of having a drinking problem because she noticed his pickup truck outside the town's only bar one morning. After all, she reasoned, it was a logical assumption.
George stared at her for a moment and said nothing. Later that evening, he parked his pickup truck in front of her house and left it there all night.
Why is it that so many of our logical assumptions are just plain wrong? And why do we want to act as if they must be true?
In an age long before the Internet, a young American at a banquet found himself seated next to the eminent V. K. Wellington Koo, a Chinese diplomat. Completely at a loss as to what to say to someone from such a different culture, this young man ventured, "Likee soupee?" After all, he assumed, don’t all Chinese speak in broken English?
Mr. Koo smiled and nodded. Later when called upon to speak, Wellington Koo delivered an eloquent talk in exquisite English, sat down while the applause was still resounding, turned to the young man and whispered, "Likee speechee?
Another assumption that was completely wrong. And I can relate. I regularly assume things and act as if they must be true.
Do you know one of the reasons why red roses are so popular? Men keep buying them. They ASSUME that all women prefer red roses when flowers are in order. And when asked their partner’s favorite color of rose, men usually say it’s red.
But what do the women say? When women are asked what color of rose is their favorite, they are more likely to answer that they prefer yellow, white, black, peach or lavender. And when asked what kind of flowers they would prefer to receive from that special person, the answer is generally not roses at all. Try daisies, tulips or gardenias. The age-old assumption that most women like red roses best is simply not true.
Sometimes I think it has taken way too long, but I’m learning to ask about these things I always KNEW were absolutely true. At least I assumed so. When my wife is silent, I’ve always assumed she was angry with me. But now I’m learning to ask. And I’m discovering that her aloofness sometimes actually comes from the fact that she is worried about something not related to me at all.
Assumptions. We all make them. They're too often wrong and can easily get us into trouble.
So here is what I’ve learned: when in doubt, check it out. And if I’m not in doubt, I still check it out. I’m sure I know what she likes? I check it out. I believe I know what the silence is all about? I check it out. It’s only logical? I still check it out.
We may think we know. But what we know may not be so. Best to check it out.
This may sound simplistic, but I am always amazed how often we are in distress over things we assume to be true. Yet nobody has checked them out. And I also know that when I check my assumptions out, I can expect to be surprised.
-- Steve Goodier
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