Cannot be Escaped, Must be Faced and Effectively Erased…

Oblique Metaphor

Preparing to depart, tomorrow, for a week of immersion in a culture heretofore completely foreign to me; I have been taking care through these preceding days to carefully examine my Baggage Cart for that insidious passenger: Assumption.

It. Is. Everywhere.

In the run-up to this project, where I will be working through interpreters in multiple contexts, my awareness of Assumption in daily social and professional intercourse has been even further heightened; such that I’m noticing the pervasiveness in everything from dinner conversations to elevator chat.


The key to being aware of the presence of Assumption – one’s own and that of colleagues, clients and others – is to Listen.

Listening, acutely, to everyone at the table: hearing what is said and extrapolating what may lie behind it…all the while remaining conscious of and cognizant to the fact of Assumption its ramifications to the course of conversation and the quality of decisions being made.

Yes. I regularly bring this up. That is because Assumption is The One Thing, passively dismissed, that runs rampant and unidentified through most conversations between human beings of every culture; causing subtle misunderstandings that build upon one another and take processes off track without people actually noticing as it does it’s evil work.

It is easiest to see Assumption in what isn’t said, just before what is said.

Read that sentence, again.

To discern that, one’s Listening must be focused on the conversation rather than on the formation of one’s own Next Statement. Truly, almost everything that comes out of our mouths is based on an assumption we make, just prior to speaking.

That assumption may be about a creative process, an approach to the resolution of a previously-encountered problem, even the personal resonance of a “shared” experience.

What do I mean by that?

Few professionals would tell themselves that their methods are “the only way” to accomplish a given task or project. That being said; many a time, I’ve watched as misunderstandings have evolved through the use of “common” terms in conversations referencing disparate experiences. I’ve watched conversations go off-track as underlying misunderstanding proceeds unidentified and people think they are making themselves clear, when the opposite may actually be the case.

A good rule of thumb is, when listening, to ask oneself if one fully comprehends what is being said…or is assumption already at play? Then, clear it up: now.

The Open Probe

To challenge another with “…well, you’re assuming…” or “…aren’t you assuming…” isn’t the most productive nor effectively diplomatic way to address and derail Assumption. Rather, pulling out an old Sales Tool – the “open probe” – can open a doorway to heightened understanding in a matter of moments…

What’s an “open probe”?

  • “Could you say more about that?”
  • “Actually, that’s not clear to me; would you expand on that…?”
  • “You know what; that’s not clear to me… Could you give me an example of what you are talking about? I just want to be sure I get it.”

Contrary to what one might assume; this does not protract the process. Yes, it may slow the meeting, as clarifications are made and appreciation of common-ground communication is uncovered; it will probably both shorten the overall process and lower the overall cost, as well.


Meanwhile, it is wise to be aware that a question can sound like a Challenge, and to choose language that does not fuel that perception. If one comes from the place of truly wishing to comprehend and appreciate and is confident in that desire to know, in order to move things forward and facilitate understanding; chances are that motive will communicate in tone and word.

Ask questions: don’t assume you know.

Listen for assumptions of others and be sure that what is actually meant by what is being said is understood…by you, by everyone involved.

With assiduous attention to Assumption, one can rule the world.


You’ll be happy to learn that the fantastic and valuable book, “imho,” is still a free download for OS & iOS from the eBook store and iTunes. The basics, the Five Tenets, some pithy anecdotes. Don’t leave yourself out in the cold; download and read it.

Working and Doing Business on Earth: Responsibilities of Global Citizenship

Back in January, in the run-up to Putin’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, I went out on an editorial limb with This Impassioned Post about exploring our responsibilities toward our fellow inhabitants on this planet in the context of the work we do.

This is a conversation I strongly believe we should be having in all our forums; from classroom, office and boardroom to TEA Summit & IAAPA and as part of most every gathering of professionals in our – and every – industry.

The problem is egregious and insidiously complex. There are no easy answers, and not everyone’s answer or level of responsibility will be seen as the same.

Fundamentally, I believe it is up to us, to us and the leadership whom we inspire, to see that the Discussion is Had…irrespective of the disparate approaches to responsibility and resolution.

Human Rights – Women, Children, LGBT, Genocide of any sort – simply needs to be a subject that is present and discussed in order to begin to achieve enlightenment and, I would hope, some ease and resolution. But, we gotta be talking about it.

It April, at the TEA Summit, though we failed to achieve seeing the subject addressed in official forum, the kickass and insightful men of Season Pass podcast sat down with me for a high-energy and in-depth conversation including the topic of Global Citizenship and Responsibility in the context of Human Rights. It is a pretty great ramping up of the conversation, and was released, yesterday.

You can listen to it HERE; and I urge you to do that.

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I think pretty much everyone who reads this will agree that Human Rights is an ever-present and rapidly escalating issue, here on the planet. I don’t know that there is a country that is exemplary on Human Rights…besides maybe Canada…and I doubt that there will be widespread agreement on a course of action.

What I hope to see Agreed is the need for active discourse, and this is a call for that.

We are responsible for the quality of Life on this Planet; what we breathe and eat and drink, who is allowed to participate in the management of their own lives (um, everyone…), who has the right to decide how we live and who we love (um, no one…).

These are industries with work all over the Planet; we have access to people at every level or caste in virtually every country in the world.

How might we best handle this responsibility?

Listen. Decide. Act.


And hey, subscribe to The Season Pass! These guys deliver a GREAT show…even when they’re not interviewing me…