The popular saying, “Assuming makes an ‘a**’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me,'” resonates with many. But let’s be candid: A life devoid of assumptions is impossible.

However, it’s critical to clarify that assumptions aren’t morally colored. They can be functional mental shortcuts, facilitating quick decisions and complex social navigations. The challenge lies in discerning which assumptions are beneficial and which are hazardous.

To bring this point home, consider a classroom exercise focused on text messaging. According to statistics, adults under 45 send and receive over 85 texts daily. How many assumptions are embedded in sending just one text? Here’s a starter:

  • The recipient will receive the text.
  • The text will be read.
  • The recipient wants to receive a text from you.

Students, when prompted, often list more than 30 assumptions linked to this single act of communication. It’s an eye-opening revelation that assumptions are omnipresent, like it or not.

So, how can one manage these inescapable mental constructs, particularly those that might contribute to misunderstandings or lost opportunities? Here are some strategies:

Five Ways to Minimize Assumptions:

  1. Verify, Don’t Assume: An extra step for validation can prevent costly misunderstandings.
  2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: This prevents presumptions about someone’s thoughts or feelings.
  3. Listen Actively: Focus on the spoken words instead of predicting what comes next.
  4. Be Mindful: Monitor personal thought patterns to detect where assumptions fill gaps.
  5. Feedback Loop: Post-decision, it’s beneficial to revisit any assumptions that influenced the outcome.


Assumptions are neither evil nor saintly; they are intricate webs of potential pitfalls and shortcuts. Through increased awareness and deliberate actions, one can better navigate the maze of assumptions to foster more authentic interactions and connections.