Posted on 05-04-2011
An eloquent and striking illustration of this comes from the movie "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory." A recurring line from the crime boss hijacking the train is "Assumption is the mother of all f--- ups." The hero in the movie keeps surviving because of thugs erroneously assuming he's dead.
A less violent example of this happened yesterday when I had a phone meeting scheduled with an advertising provider. I called her office phone at the appointed time while she was in another part of the building waiting for my call on a special line included in an Outlook invite.
Her assumptions were that I was familiar with Outlook invitations and that I would be used to the idea of using conference call lines for one-on one calls.
My assumptions were that unless stated otherwise in our email correspondence, I would call her office line, and that the worst case scenario would be that I would be able to at least connect with her on that line since she'd be in her office.
There were assumptions for both of us in this case that didn't turn out well. In life, there's always some degree of assumption that needs to be made so you're not stuck in indecision. However, it's necessary to stay alert and flexible for situations where people don't see the world the same as you do. This is especially relevant in today's changing technological world, where people don't share the same proficiency with common online tools.
The concept that "you are not your customer" has been around in business for a long time. When we operate under the assumption that the patient, client, or customer thinks or acts like we do, we take a large risk of miscommunication.