Don’t Assume

Today I had the pleasure of being told that I had said and done things that were offensive to someone else. When I got the news, I was taken back. When I probed for more details, I found that the accusations against me were nowhere near accurate, and that great detail was missing to put everything into context. And instead of seeking to gather the full story, the individual with the complaint against me assumed that the actions they were told I did were hardcore facts. In other words, assumptions were made that led to false and inaccurate information. Moral of the story, don’t assume that what you are told is fact until you get all sides of the story.

One day I was sitting in a meeting with my boss, discussing a situation that had happened between students, and she told me, “Well, there are always three sides to a story.” I never heard that before, and I asked her to explain it to me. She said, “There are always three sides to a story: 1) the person who was hurt, offended, what have you; 2) the person who did the offense; and 3) the truth somewhere in between.” She said, “It is up to us to determine what the truth is within the stories that are shared.” I found this to be quite profound, and I have never forgotten it. I have also noticed that there is great truth to what she told me.

Assuming what we are being told is hardcore fact is dangerous. The facts are rarely shared in one sided conversation. To assume that what we are hearing is 100% fact shows a lack of judgment and character. We should listen to what we are being told, but we should also be wise in what we accept as truth and fact. It is our responsibility to get all sides, all evidence, and seek complete understanding before we determine if what we heard was factual. In other words, don’t follow blindly.

If we always assume that what we hear is fact, then we can easily be led astray from the truth. We should always be seeking truth before making judgments, decisions, and taking action. When we only receive one side of the story, and follow it blindly, we jeopardize relationships, livelihoods, and our own integrity. Facts are not one sided, but rather have evidence and proof to support them. Opinions have little to no facts and tend to rely on feelings and emotions. It doesn’t matter if you hold a leadership position or not, never assume that what you hear is 100% true. Seek understanding before assuming.

This doesn’t mean you don’t listen, but rather listen wisely. People want to be heard, and giving them an ear that listens may be all they need. If someone complains about someone else, or shares what they believe happened, I encourage you to listen, but push for truth and reconciliation. Don’t believe hearsay and don’t get caught in the middle of disputes. Be the mediator, but bring both parties together to have a conversation to seek a resolution. Allow the truth to come out on its own by having both parties present. 

Takeaways:

  1. Assuming anything is dangerous. Don’t take everything you hear at face value. Listen wisely and seek truth and understanding.
  2. Assuming can ruin relationships, livelihoods, and our reputation.
  3. There are three sides to every story. Seek truth in all things.
  4. Listen but push for truth and reconciliation. Don’t get caught up in drama and hearsay. Keep your integrity intact. 

As always, stay humble and lead well. 

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