Lesson 37: Don’t be so sure (of anything)

Remember when I said you are not as smart as you think you are?  If you don’t, check out Lesson 30.  It is important to be prudent and even more important to possess a sense of humility.  It is OK to not have all the answers.  It is OK to admit that you aren’t sure or don’t know.  It is far better to admit the truth than to make an assumption and pay for it later.  Have you ever heard the saying “it is easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission?”  That doesn’t apply very well to relationships.  The best philosophy to adopt is “if you don’t know, ask.”  There are times in life where you need to take a leap of faith.  This applies to relationships as well.  This is not the same thing as making assumptions. 

If you would rather go making assumptions based on incomplete information, that is your call.  You better be ready to handle the consequences.  As with all rules, there are times when they are applicable, and times when there are also gray areas to consider.  Asking a girl out for the first time, not knowing whether or not she will say yes, is a leap of faith.  Assuming that she will say yes because you believe you are God’s gift to humanity, is the mentality I am addressing here.  Just because you believe you are the best thing for them, doesn’t make it the case.  In fact, all it does is display an unattractive arrogance that most people will find repulsive.  

Guessing what they are thinking without any insight is a dangerous game to play when it comes to matters of the heart.  Maybe you get it right, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.  All that does is embolden you to probably do it again and again.  Eventually you will get it wrong, and you will face the consequences then.  No one is perfect and no one knows everything.  It is so much easier to just ask.  Matters like these can be cleared up so easily through the simple act of communicating.  The more you talk, the more you ask, the more you will know.  Communication is such an easy way to minimize risk and there are other benefits as well.

Everyone wants someone to understand.  We all want to be heard.  I have yet to meet someone that appreciated anyone in their life believing them to be so predictable that nothing ever needed to be asked.  There is something extremely uncomfortable about encountering someone that thinks they know more about you than you do and it makes that person less desirable to be around.  It is feelings like these that can also make a relationship uncomfortable and more likely to end.  By asking these questions and engaging in conversations of discovery, a level of likability and comfort develop between all parties involved.  If you don’t know, ask.  

We had a philosophy in the military that if you even think you might need to ask whether or not something was OK, the only safe assumption is to ask.”  Even if you wind up gaining forgiveness, it will be remembered if you made a questionable decision that warranted further inquiry.  This, in turn, made you less desirable to work with.  No matter how smart or well trained you are, no one is exempt from making mistakes.  The trick is to ensure that those mistakes cost as little as possible.  There is nothing worse than making a bad decision that ends up negatively impacting those around you.  It is a guilt that you never want to feel.  

One of the most common experiences I had with this concept was the safety briefings in the military that were issued at the beginning of every shift.  There were many, but those involving dangerous equipment or choices were reviewed every day without exception.  We were trained to treat every firearm you handle as if it were loaded.  “There is no such thing as an unloaded firearm,” was the most common mantra we had.  It was a saying that preached caution when handling anything potentially dangerous.  The danger here is assumption and over-confidence.  It was often arrogant or overconfident “professionals” that made the dumbest and most potentially dangerous errors.

Never assume that just because the person with you must be happy.  In any relationship, it is easy to get tunnel vision.  You see the smiles, hear the laughter, embrace the hugs and kisses, and it becomes easy to believe that both of you are happy.  There is a good chance that, if all of that is occurring, you are probably right.  Everything feels like it is going well.  That is fantastic and I truly hope that is the case.  Ask yourself what the harm is in making sure.  Ask them questions like “are you happy?” or “your happiness means the world to me. What can I do to make you even happier?”  It may sound lame or cheesy, but it isn’t.  It is communication.  Without honest and open communication, failure is inevitable.  Talk.  Keep talking.

Takeaways:

  1. You are not as smart as you think you are.
  2. If you even think you need to ask, just ask.
  3. There is a big difference between making an assumption and taking a leap of faith.
  4. Just because they are smiling, doesn’t mean they are happy.
  5. No matter how many assumptions you get right, eventually, you will get it wrong.

1 Comment

  1. There are a few things I’m sure of, but not many, so I tend to say, “I think….” or “I believe…..” before many of my statements. I find it annoying when people present opinions as facts. I’ve known a couple people who seemed so sure about things I believed were incorrect, that I double checked my facts which were correct. Both of these people grew up in rough environments and one worked in a prison. My theory is that they developed these communication styles so as not to be taken advantage of. That theory helped me understand, but I am thankful these people are not in my life anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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