Challenge assumptions; they could lead to disengagement

Imagine you are driving down the highway. A car swerves from the other lane, cuts you off and speeds away.

Imagine you are driving down the highway. A car swerves from the other lane, cuts you off and speeds away.

More than likely your first instinct would be to be angry with that person. You may think they are a jerk, a bad driver or something worse.

Labeling them as a bad driver or an inconsiderate jerk is based on assumptions we all hold. Assumptions are based partially on stories we tell ourselves to make sense out of any situation.

The story we tell ourselves in this case is that the driver is dumb or inconsiderate, and definitely distracted.

How would the story change if you saw an injured person in the car, or a child choking? Would that change your assumptions and the corresponding story you tell yourself that led to it?

These stories that we tell ourselves and the assumptions we hold also can negatively affect our daily lives, personally and professionally. Our day-to-day interactions with friends and colleagues all are affected and shaped by these stories and subsequent assumptions that develop.

As managers, we must recognize that our direct reports and people we work with all are acting on assumptions they make every day.

Sometimes these assumptions get in the way of good work being done. Perhaps they are a cause of employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

A good practice to put in your toolbox is reflective skepticism. Another term for this is learning through reflection.

It can be done alone, though is best done with a partner.

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