I see it every single day in e-mail communications. Assumptions flying all over the place! When it comes to your business e-mail communications you can not, should not, must not assume.
Just one wrong assumption can cost you business, opportunity, a potential client or, and I’ve seen this happen, business relationships compromised due to misunderstandings. Misunderstandings that create a lack of confidence or trust due to incorrect assumptions.
What do we assume?
- Assumptions about what the other side is thinking. Did they state that is what they were thinking? If not, don’t assume.
- Assuming what the choice of punctuation means other than accepting it on it’s face value. Try not to over emphasize emphasis.
- Assumptions as to what type of person is on the other side. Do you know this person well? Even if you do, can you emphatically state you know what they would do or think in any given situation — probably not — so don’t assume.
- Assumptions about a person’s level of education or intelligence. That’s a tough one — even I do so on occasion and have to put myself in check. Try very hard to not assume here. Until everyone realizes the power of perception, there will be typo filled, grammatically incorrect, error laden e-mails — regardless of level of intelligence and yes, education!
- Assumptions in response to a query or question that are not correct. Read the question or query completely, entirely, before answering. Read it out loud just to be sure. Your assumption can make you look like the one not paying attention to the conversation.
Being business is all about relationships, it is clear that to avoid assuming is a wise approach.
Just Don’t Assume
If you catch yourself assuming and are not sure what the other side meant, e-mail back and ask for clarification before you reply based on your assumptions. Before doing so though, make sure you are not making assumptions that simply are not backed up by the choice of words and how they were used. By asking for clarification based on unsubstantiated assumptions only serves to reflect that you are assuming!
Assuming intent, tone, meaning or motive in emails only serves to hinder communications, can affect long term relationships and encourage misunderstandings. Whether it be a coworker or supervisor, customer or new contact keeping your assumptions in check will help to add clarity to your communications and build stronger relationships over the long term.
I’ll leave you with this classic!