When You Assume. . .

Verify, don't assume.

Yesterday I began talking about how to deal with people that push your buttons.  The first part was to not talk back automatically.  And I hinted pretty heavily on what the other half of the equation was: stop assuming.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone, only to realize later that you were not even talking about the same thing?  Or have you ever jumped to a conclusion, and started to get angry only to realize that you went somewhere completely different then where the speaker was headed?

This is the problem with assuming.  You are not in the other person’s head.  You have no way of knowing what they are thinking without asking them.  So if you find there is someone out there who drives you insane, try a new technique.

Instead of thinking about how you are going to reply, your side or why the person you are dealing with is an idiot; focus only on one thing.  Focus on trying to figure out what they are thinking.  Don’t think about what you think about the situation/concept/opinion/etc., try and figure out how the person you are dealing with thinks about it.

How about an example:

Let’s say that you are a Republican and you are about to start arguing healthcare with a Democrat.  Instead of assuming that they think like what you see as a stereotypical Democrat, listen to what their views are.  If something does not make sense to you, question them until you understand exactly what they are saying.  DO NOT ARGUE.  Do not even assert your point of view until you believe you could perfectly repeat their view back to them.

This accomplishes two important things. Firstly, it makes it so that you avoid an argument.  It is pretty hard to get mad at someone when they are asking to be taught or informed; which should be all you are doing.  Secondly, it shows the person that you respect them, and you value their opinion.  This makes them much more likely to be interested in your opinion and listen to what you have to say.  You can actually have a conversation, and maybe reach an amicable conclusion.

Too often, we let emotions cloud our thinking.  If you can hold them back and have an actual conversation with those you disagree with, you might just find out that you don’t disagree as much as you thought.  Following this new habit will decrease the number of people in your life you fight with, and increase the number of people who respect you; because you respect them.

So just remember: the next time you find yourself faced with that person that pushes all of your buttons, why not try and make them your friend?