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Minimize Assumptions & Take the Guesswork out of the Equation

Part three of a special series on Health and Wellness in professional practices.

This is Part Three of a Special Series on Health & Wellness
Part I: A Lesson to Learn
from Cross Country Skiers: Pace Yourself

Part II: Staying Focused
on Priorities in the Midst of Trivial Distractions

With April 15 bearing down upon us, I assume you are working harder than an
incumbent U.S. Representative trying to locate a constituent who is pleased
with Congress. Perhaps I’m wrong in my speculation; maybe you have everything
under control. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve blundered
in such conjectures. I learned a long time ago — mostly the hard way —
that assuming facts not yet established can be counterproductive. Instead of
saving time and effort, assumptions can be major energy wasters. I assume …
uh, there I go again. I hope you have learned this same valuable truth.

We make daily assumptions often without thinking.

  • We give the shower spigot a quick twist, assuming there will be hot water.
  • We turn the ignition key, assuming the engine will roar to life.
  • We head to the office at the regular time, assuming the line at the drive
    through coffee spot won’t be longer than usual.

Life without such suppositions is nearly impossible; however, when it comes
to your job, you must do your best to take the guess work out of the equation.
It will save you a ton of heartache in the long run.

When you incorrectly assume something to be true, it will cost you valuable
time and energy to remedy the problem. I’ve heard it said that assumptions
are the lowest form of knowledge. We often resort to assumptions because we
are in a hurry, but as the old adage goes, “haste makes waste.”
Slow down, stay focused, and think carefully.

Collecting too much information is better than not enough. Use whatever method
you use for gathering information about your clients, such as a client organizer
or CRM (customer relationship management) product. Devise a simple form to help
you gather all the needed information from and about your clients.

This is one simple way in which your computer, the Internet and everyday programs
can be a real timesaver. In fact, today’s products offer so much in the
way of collecting and organizing client information, often in a format that
can be utilized completely online such as through portals. Take advantage of
these timesaving tools. Don’t try to wing things from memory; you will
inevitably miss something important. Spend a little extra time up front to get
the right information, and it will save you hours of wasted time and effort
in correcting unnecessary mistakes based on faulty assumptions. Let’s
face it; you can’t afford to squander any minutes at this point in busy
season. Staying focused and organized not only saves you time, it also instills
confidence in your clients.

When you incorrectly assume something to be true, you will appear less competent
than you really are. When a new potential client comes to your office for your
first meeting, how much do you assume?

  • He isn’t wearing a wedding band – must be single. In
    reality, he may be married with four kids but is employed in a job where any
    ring posses a hazard so he keeps his treasured band at home.
  • He appears older with all that white hair – must be retired.
    In reality, he may be prematurely gray due to the stress of a failed
    business venture and simply cannot afford to retire now or in the foreseeable
  • He’s driving an expensive, red sporty convertible –
    must be rich.
    In reality, he may be up to his neck in debt, and his
    1997 minivan with 125,000 miles showing on the odometer is in the shop. Consequently,
    he had to borrow his snooty brother-in-law’s mid-life crisis car to
    get to your office.

If you act on your assumptions, your client will be amused, bewildered or
embarrassed, but in any case you will come across less than competent. Get the
facts straight, for your sake and your client’s.

When you incorrectly assume something to be true, you will always be surprised
at the outcome. Some years ago, I was returning home late one afternoon from
an out-of-town meeting.

Traffic on the four-lane road was moving at a reasonable pace except for the
aging, faded red pickup in the right-hand lane. As I neared the old truck, I
noticed the driver through the dust streaked back glass. He appeared somewhat
stooped shouldered as he manhandled the steering wheel with his left arm. His
dull flannel shirt had seen better days, and his sweat-stained farmer’s
cap had tuffs of gray hair sticking out all around the bottom of the brim.

Amazingly, his right arm was not resting on the steering wheel but was draped
around the shoulders of a curly haired blond. From my vantage point, which was
closing rapidly, she appeared far too young to be sitting that close.

Was this one of those May/December relationships that just doesn’t make
sense? What does a young blonde see in an old geezer anyway? As I pulled around
to pass, I couldn’t help but glance over into the cab of the truck. Imagine
my shock when it was not a young blonde that returned my glance, but a golden
haired retriever sitting next to his master. I swear the dog winked at me as
if to say, “Surprise!”

What had moments before been a twisted courtship, was simply an endearing picture
of friendship between an old farmer and his best four-legged friend. I learned
a valuable lesson that day about assumptions — don’t make them!

Reserve surprises for milestone birthday parties. In the work environment,
the unexpected is seldom positive. So do yourself a favor; stop making assumptions
or you may end up being as unpopular as that incumbent congressman who assumes
he’s got your vote.


This is Part Two of a Special Series on the Importance of Health &
Wellness for Professionals
Part I: A Lesson to Learn from Cross
Country Skiers: Pace Yourself

Part II: Staying Focused
on Priorities in the Midst of Trivial Distractions


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