04 Aug Life Lessons from a Picnic Table
My husband and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. Shocking, I know. And early on in our marriage we learned a significant lesson.
We bought a house together that has a nicely landscaped backyard. Neither on of us had any patio furniture but we felt it was an investment we should consider. So off we went, to multiple stores, combed flyers, looking online and the price of furniture continued to be a hurdle. We just didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on patio furniture, and then there was the Manitoba worry – what do we do with it in the winter? If we leave it outside it won’t last as long. Where will we store it? This circle of shopping discontent continued for almost the whole summer.
Then, one day I said, “do you know what I want? I want a picnic table.” A simple, easy, functional picnic table. And much to my surprise so did my husband. We had spent countless hours of time and effort shopping for furniture neither one of us wanted. Why did we do that? We did that because we both thought the other person wanted the furniture and we wanted each other to get what we wanted. We assumed and didn’t confirm and were well on our way to getting something neither of us wanted.
How often does that happen to you? How often do you get surprized because you assumed something? I think it happens a lot. Assumption is lazy communication. Maybe you don’t want to ask or don’t want to have the conversation or confrontation, or maybe you just don’t want to know? Maybe its just easier? Or is it?
Here is another example; through other people’s impressions and opinions I had assumed some not so nice things about someone. I kept that perception for a decade or more, and contributed to it by gossiping about them when provided the chance. This ‘someone’ and I ended up having a conversation one day, then I had another, then my husband had one with them…and so on. And I realized that I had formed my opinion about them based on other people’s perceptions. I had judged them because I assumed they were who these people said they were, but in fact, they are – kind, considerate, authentic and from everything I can tell unique and accepting. Not to forget smart and successful. This ‘someone’ has even offered to help me be successful. This is a good person.
I am ashamed of my assumption. I was wrong.
The amount of time we spend assuming and judging each other unfairly feels overwhelming for me sometimes. And unnecessary. What if we made an effort to assume a little less, what if we became more aware of our own brain and our own judgments? What if we allowed people to show us who they are and didn’t let other people taint our view? What if we stopped the gossip and the erroneous story telling? What if we just didn’t allow that in our day?
If you are leading a team, and I think you are all leading something somewhere and in some way, what are you assuming about people on your team that might not be true? How does that assumption affect how you do or do not offer behavioural corrections? Are you being fair? And if you are assuming things about them, what are they assuming about you? And how does that affect their responses and respect for you?
What are you assuming that is wrong? What is your picnic table?