Jumping to conclusions

We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.
Stephen R. Covey
1932 – 2012

We all encounter problems in life. Most of us have developed the habit of trying to find a solution to the problem as quickly as we can. However, this approach often leads to solving the wrong problem: we jump to conclusions and leave the real problem untouched.

Let me give you an example. Recently, I was working with a young woman who was having trouble with one of her employees. The woman had decided that the solution was to replace the employee. In my view, she was trying to find a quick, easy answer when she hadn’t fully explored the problem. So she was about to make a serious decision based on an incomplete thought process. If she had let the employee go, she would have turned the employee’s life upside down, and when she hired a replacement, the underlying problem would still be there because she hadn’t addressed it.

But there’s a better approach. It doesn’t matter if the issue you’re facing is business or personal; this technique works equally well either way.

Begin by writing down the problem as you see it. Include the ways the problem is impacting you and others around you.

Next, list what should be accomplished by the satisfactory resolution of the problem. What end result(s) do you want?

Then write out why you think this problem exists. Be careful not to judge as you carry out this part. Don’t automatically blame others; go deep. Just saying it’s someone’s fault doesn’t adequately answer the question.

Keep in mind that problems are usually the result of misconceptions or failure to communicate. Too often, we make assumptions which just aren’t true. Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking.

Make sure you give each of these questions adequate time and effort. Your answers need to be well thought out. Once you’ve devoted sufficient time to addressing each point, then you can begin to develop potential solutions — but not before.

Pick a problem that’s been troubling you and give this approach a try. If you use this technique on a regular basis, you should see great improvement in your business and personal relationships.

It’s not the things you don’t know that trip you up. It’s the things you think you know, but you don’t. You fail to ask a certain question because you believe you know the answer.
Claudia Gray
1970 –

Copyright © 2021 John Chancellor


Jumping to conclusions — 2 Comments

  1. John, I have always had an impulsive nature and it has caused problems for me all along. Thank goodness, as I got older, I learned to slow down and really think about a decision, trying to look at it several different ways. Thanks for this lesson.More people really need to think long and hard before making a decision that could change your life and the lives of others.

  2. Pansy, Thanks for your comments. I am so glad you see the value in this lesson. I know I have problems with this and I suspect a number of other people do also. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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