“Harry’s” network came through. He got a face-to-face meeting with a manager who had authority to hire him for a new position.
Then Harry blew it. At the meeting, he said, “I am very impressed by your new product, the Alpha gizmo.”
Unfortunately for Harry, the Alpha gizmo had been around for a long time. Harry made two mistakes. He hadn’t done his research. But even the most diligent research can miss a few things. Harry’s worst mistake was making an assumption.
Why did Harry make this assumption? Well, he went browsing through the company website. He came across a promotion for a product he had never noticed. “New promotion equals new product,” he reasoned.
In my experience, false assumptions are the most annoying, frustrating elements of any kind of relationship. So I recommend avoiding them, whether you’re dealing with colleagues, bosses, customers, or even friends.
Someone comes over and sees a few books about vampires on my coffee table. “You must like books about vampires,” they say. Or worse, I get a vampire book for my birthday The truth? I hate books about vampires. These books were sent to me, unsolicited, by well-meaning authors who want me to review them for amazon. They’re in a pile for library donations.
This happes a lot when you’re a frequent reviewer for online bookstores. If you’re an author who wants reviews for a book, I refer you to http://www.BoostBusinessWithBookReviews.com
So how do you avoid assumptions?
First, become sensitive to facts versus opinions versus assumptions.
I recommend practicing among your friends so you won’t make a mistake in a business or career situation. For example, When you catch yourself using words like “should” or “must,” you’ve got a clue. When you state a fact, practice asking yourself, “How do I know it’s true?”
For instance, people who are home during the day are not necessarily retired, sick or laid off. Make any of those assumptons and you’ve lost business from a fast-growing sector of the current economy.
Second, practuce asking questions instead of making statements.
You see a collection of cute animal figurines on John’s desk. “You must be a collector” would not be a good start. John might respond with, “No. My friend gives them to me and I don’t have a way to tell her I hate them.”
Now you’ve got an awkward conversation. On some level, disagreeing or correcting is not a conversational mode that builds relationships. You could just ask John, “Where did you get those objects?”
Regardless of how John answers, you can form a bond. “Oh yes…I’ve got a shelf of pottery my friend gave me after she took a class. Her feelings would be hurt if I tossed them.”
Finally, be especially of assumptions that limit your options. “They probably won’t want someone with my background…” may be deadly accurate. But you never know. Best to call and introduce yourself.,,with no assumptions.