Questions to ask before you ASS-U-ME

You know the old saying: “When you assume something, you make an Ass out of U and Me.” What is it about assumptions that make them so asinine? Well, mostly it’s because assumptions are rarely 100% accurate and that yawning gap between your assumption and the actual truth is sometimes, well, embarASSing.

Blame it on our brains. To shorten our response time during times of threat, our brains became hard-wired to jump to conclusions based on just a shred of evidence. This so-called “evidence” triggers us to recall past incidents (usually stored and labelled as “Very Bad” by the brain) and we react based on the fear-based assumption that what happened before will happen again. This default response time is so quick that the rational, thinking part of our brain can’t keep up, and the primitive part of our brain executes a response based on an assumption before our thinking brain has a chance to investigate further.

So how do we stop the brain default from making an ass of us?

Simple. Recognize when you feel threatened. Then, ask your brain a question as soon as you feel threatened or anxious. This question will invite the thinking part of your brain to pause and investigate, quelling the immediate knee-jerk threat response. Here’s a few simple questions that will challenge the assumptions your brain wants to make and allow you to truly see what is going on in your present world:

  • I feel some anxiety. What’s going on?
  • I have just been triggered. How do I want to respond?
  • Some part of me feels threatened. How can I turn this threat into an opportunity?

Try this for a week, observe how you feel, and report back by commenting below. If you want to quickly get into the habit of asking these questions, there’s an app for that: My Leadership Coach, available for less than $20 by downloading this session on the MindPT app (free in Goggle Play or iTunes). For additional tips, you can also subscribe to our quarterly newsletter and get a free excerpt of my new book: Pause Power.

If you are assuming this is some gimmick, or some martian mind control trick, we have some work to do!