©2016 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Assumptions cause all kinds of stress. The challenge is that we don’t often realize when we’re making assumptions. It’s the challenge you cannot see.
People love to wonder about people. So they guess and share their thoughts with others. And gossip is born from guessing. But what if their imaginings about you are wrong? And what if your speculation about them is wrong? When I was in engineering management, I worked with mainly men. Gradually, I realized they were frequently wondering about me and imagining traits I supposedly had.
Given that all of my colleagues were married, and given the level of gossip, I certainly never dated within the organization. I was simply a nice lady whose private life was…private. I was grossly embarrassed when I realized the detail in which my colleagues were talking about my social life and even my body. It took me years to get over that. Without their speculation, how much less tension and stress might have crackled in our work environment?
Juliana Hatfield said,
I’m just trying to get rid of all the mystery surrounding me and let people see what I’m thinking. So they can understand me and stop assuming things about me.
Think about how fast you mentally build a profile for people when you first meet them. It is said that we form our impressions in 4 seconds. Some of our first thoughts can be useful. However, can you keep your initial observations in the Draft Folder? Can you leave them as “maybes” until you get a chance to know the person better?
A friend told me about an embarrassing incident that happened to her, because of someone else’s assumptions about her. My friend was over 50, in a successful career, teaching in New York City, when she led her class on an afternoon field trip. This one was to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was Free Day, with entry payment optional. My friend had decided to dress down that day. She was wearing no makeup, with clothes that she thought were casual but nice.
As my friend got to the entry turnstile and lifted her hand to put some dollars in the slot, a young hand shot out in a gesture of “wait!” My friend looked up to see an anxious, fashionable young woman, a Museum employee, who sweetly advised her that she didn’t need to pay. The employee thought my friend was very poor. My friend was humiliated. However, she assured the employee that she was comfortable donating. In telling me this story, years later, my friend said she hadn’t realized how old her clothes looked, and she was clearly still embarrassed. She has since retooled her Casual Day look.
What other assumptions do people make about us, based on how we look? Actress Stacey Dash has said,
I came across some awful characters when I got some kind of status and came to Hollywood. Then you have directors trying to sleep with you, assuming that you will do things because of the way you dress.
So let’s all try to keep an eye on what we imagine and assume about people. If you’re disturbed by someone’s behavior, have you actually talked with them about it? Do you really know what’s going on? When you are frustrated by a situation, try writing down what you actually know, what you guess, and what came from rumors. Eliminate the conjecture for a clearer picture, and try starting fresh. Assumptions can create burdens you don’t need, and it’s up to you.
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine. Both that book and Peace Within are available through her office. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: email@example.com .