The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/apps/assume.htm
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series
of brief articles on how to respond effectively
to annoying social behavior. An effective response occurs
when you get your
well enough, and both people feel
This article offers (a) perspective on
assumptions, and (b) sample effective
responses to someone who assumes "too much."
assumes you're familiar with...
If there's a person in your life who annoys or
frustrates you by over-assuming things. keep them in
mind as you read this.
I assume you make assumptions about people and
situations all the time - yes? Can you describe
what an assumption is, as tho to a
pre-teen? How about "An assumption is a
guess about something you don't really know."
For example, I assume (guess) that the sun will
set this evening, and rise again tomorrow
Do you ever make assumptions about...
feelings, needs, thoughts, motives and
past and future
realities, and a Higher Power's abilities,
motives, powers, and intentions?
afterlife, and the origin and meaning of
morality, and credibility of some public
figures and authorities?
how you'll feel
inherent goodness or badness?
retirement will be like?
what you can and
fairies, guardian angels, and miracles?
Do you agree that generalizing is a form
of assuming? - e.g. "All Englishmen are stolid
and unemotional," or "Men only want one thing
from a woman."
Premise - kids and adults automatically
make assumptions about living things and the
world in order to provide a sense of order.
That's partly a defense against being
overwhelmed by fear of the unknown, and being
unable to understand and prepare for certain
events and people. Some assumptions provide hope
and a direction in confusing times or
relationships ("I know Paco will be late
again!"). Other assumptions breed anxiety, hurt,
anger, shame, and despair.
Some assumptions are based on facts, reason, and
experience, and others are based on superstition, hunches, emotions, and
misinformation. This causes behaviors ranging
between beneficial and harmful to the assumer
and affected people.
Some aware people identify
their assumptions ("I assume you're not
interested in the bull fight."), and others
state them as tho they're absolute facts
("Conspirators killed President Kennedy!") The
dividing line between assumptions and
prejudice can be debatable.
you feel when you're with someone who assumes
"too much" or wrongly about you or something
How do you usually
Your reaction probably depends on your
personality, your relationship, and the
situation. Whatever you do, doe it fill your
needs with the person? If not, consider these...
to notice the person is assuming too much or
until they become automatic;
as dignified persons;
how to give
feedback to another person, and...
feel around the over-assuming
person. Your emotions point to what you
- to vent? Confront? Learn? Discuss? Set or
enforce a limit? Give
feedback? Correct the other person's
assumption? Something else?
the Person is Over-assuming About You
"(Name) are you open to some personal
feedback?" If you get "No," you have
problem than mind-reading.
"Are you aware
of how often you make assumptions about me?"
"When you make
assumptions about what I think / feel / need
/ intend I feel _________ (and I need you to
stop assuming, and ask me.)"
I _________. When you assume, I feel
disrespected and irritated (or whatever)"
"Why do you
assume I __________?"
wrong (about ________)."
"Try walking a
mile in my shoes before you make guesses
you're having trouble empathizing with /
the Person is Over-assuming
About Someone or
"Do you know
that, or are you assuming it?"
"Why do you
"I don't think
you're considering the whole picture."
"I don't think you know enough / are
qualified / have enough information / to assume that."
"I don't agree
with your assumption/s."
"I discount your
opinions when you assume so much."
Notice the theme
of these responses (clear, respectful,
direct, and brief), and adapt them to your
After you respond,
the other person to "resist" you
- i.e. to
excuse, explain, argue deny, bluster, go
silent, avoid eye contact, whine, etc. Use
empathic listening if they do (e.g. "So you
think I'm over critical of you.") and then
repeat your statement or assertion calmly,
with steady eye contact. Do this as often as
necessary until you get your needs met or
your needs change
Can you think of someone who "mind reads" you or
over-assumes? Imagine using one or more of these
responses when your true Self guides you. How do
you think the person would feel and react? How
would you feel?