A Coaching Power Tool Created by Jeslin Sara John
(Life Coach, INDIA)
We are familiar with the words: facts and assumptions. But little do we know about the impacts they have on our lives.
By definition, Fact is a piece of information supported by proof while assumptions are things that are believed to be true.
An assumption is something that we learned previously through our experience and did not question. It is part of our belief system. We assume our beliefs to be true and use them in driving our lives. If we believe that a physically challenged person has difficulty doing things as a normal person, and when we meet a physically challenged, we will infer that they always need help. If our belief is a sound one, so will our assumptions be.
Often different people make different inferences because they bring to situations different viewpoints. They see the data differently. To put it in another way, they make different assumptions about what they see. For example, if two people see a man and a woman fighting, one might infer, “There’s a crazy couple” The other might infer, “There’s a man troubling a woman.” These inferences are based on different assumptions about the conditions under which people fight. Moreover, these assumptions are connected to each person’s viewpoint about people. The first person assumes, “Only couples fight” The second person assumes, “women are always troubled by men.”
We are familiar with the story of the speedy hare, who bragged about how fast he could run and the Slow and Steady tortoise who challenged him to a race.
All the animals in the forest had gathered that day with a contemptuous mind to see the tortoise lose.
The hare ran down the road for a while and looked back at tortoise and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?”
Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”
Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.
The hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.
It’s more like a fact that Hares are fast and tortoises are slow. And that was the biggest mistake that the hare did. He assumed that there was 0% chance for the tortoise to win
The point is that we all make many assumptions as we go about our daily life and we ought to be able to recognize and question them. As we develop these critical intuitions, we increasingly notice our inferences and those of others. We increasingly notice what we and others are taking for granted. We increasingly notice how our point of view shapes our experiences.
We humans naturally and regularly use our beliefs as assumptions and make inferences based on those assumptions. We must do so to make sense of where we are, what we are about, and what is happening. Assumptions and inferences permeate our lives precisely because we cannot act without them. We make judgments, form interpretations, and come to conclusions based on the beliefs we have formed.
Ask yourself if the sentence you just thought is a fact or an assumption
Imagine, that you are going for a job interview.
But on the day of your interview, your heart is beating faster than usual, your hands feel clammy, your mouth is so dry it feels like you have cotton inside – and the butterflies in your stomach are out of control. Your biggest fear here is the fear of the unknown. You fear that by getting rejected you are going to lose something big in life.
If you are in such a situation, ask yourself “What are the facts and what my assumptions here are”, “what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if I get rejected”.
Not everything is made for you and in the same way you are not made for everyone / everything.
An important part of critical thinking is the art of bringing what is subconscious in our thought to the level of conscious realization. This includes the recognition that our experiences are shaped by the inferences we make during those experiences. It enables us to separate our experiences into two categories: the raw data of our experience in contrast with our interpretations of those data, or the inferences we are making about them. Eventually we need to realize that the inferences we make are heavily influenced by our point of view and the assumptions we have made about people and situations. This puts us in the position of being able to broaden the scope of our outlook, to see situations from more than one point of view, and hence to become more open-minded.
When you challenge your assumptions, you might realize that your questions were limiting your exploration of the issue.
According to the philosophy of coaching.
“We believe that the client is the expert in his or her own life. As coaches our role is to support the client to help them find the answers to their life challenges.”
When the client brings a topic to the table, such as, “clarity on a certain subject”, as coaches we tend to assume the outcome and the session ends up being driven by the coach rather than the client. If the client truly is the expert in his/her life, then our role as coaches is to support them to find the answers to the challenges of their own lives.
Questions related to assumptions:
- What part of the sentence is an assumption and a fact
- What might you be assuming that is limiting your thinking on this issue?
- What assumptions are making you feel depressed?
- If you secretly knew what might get in the way, what would it be?
- Where do you think your thoughts stand in your own way?