I recently received a letter of complaint from a student taking one of our courses. The student had taken deep offence at something I said and needed to tell me how compassionless he found me.
I didn’t give time responding to this letter. However, I was quickly reminded about how often we assume that the way we see things is how they actually are. Our perspectives, attitudes, actions and behaviours flow out of the assumptions we make each day.
As I stepped into default mode, I automatically queried whether I am, in some way, a compassionless human being. I then formed a hypothesis as to whether the student in question might just have taken offence at his own assumptions due to being overly sensitive.
I finally trusted the latter of these options as valid. Unsolicited opinions are undoubtedly the junk mail of life.
Receiving unsolicited feedback from people that we neither know, trust or admire is irrelevant to most people; however, this comment led me into a place of reflection and contemplation. Here I’ll share my findings.
The more I considered the email, the more I realised how many people do this. People often react in a certain way towards who they think we are, then act as if their interpretation is a fact of profound truth and realisation. This certainly isn’t true, and assumptions unquestionably prove themselves to be the termites of human relationships.
Incorrect assumptions lie at the root of every failure. Have the courage to test your assumptions.– Brian Tracy
What I’m saying here, is that sometimes people will cast their assumptions at us, and sometimes, if we’re not secure in our identity and grounded within ourselves, we’ll end up letting other peoples assumptions of us stick.
A common problem many people face is that they allow the assumptions of others to impact them in all kinds of unhelpful and emotional ways. It’s useful to note here that just because someone gives us feedback doesn’t mean we’re required to accept or approve it.
Sometimes, the worst culprits of assigning undermining assumptions unto us are ourselves. It is tactful for us to learn the art of challenging our assumptions and dismissing them abruptly at times. Many of us will appreciate how the harder we work to hold on to particular assumptions, the more likely there’s extreme value in letting them go.
There will always be more people voicing their opinions in the world than those who are devoted to sharing valuable life-giving wisdom and insights.
It’s essential that we each develop healthy boundaries in our lives and a set of guidelines to determine and decide which comments and feedback we respond to and which ones we ignore.
A helpful way to prevent ourselves from succumbing to the unsolicited assumptions of others is to ask ourselves the following questions;
a) Is this feedback giver a reliable and credible source?
b) Does the feedback giver have my best interests at heart?
c) Is this feedback giver thoughtful, trustworthy and dependable?
d) Is the feedback received based upon facts or assumptions?
The problem with assumptions is that we can quickly get confused about the level of their validity. Therefore, when we receive any amount of feedback from another person, it’s essential that we quickly appraise just how dependable a source of information they are.
There is a time to give guidance and offer an opinion, and there is a time not to. Don’t be too quick to provide unsolicited information and become even less prepared to accept it.