When we are in conflict with another it is often the case that we make assumptions about her or him. For instance, we may attribute reasons for their actions or words that are provoking us; we may make interpretations about their body language; or we may make assumptions about their impression of us and how they read our words and actions.
Making assumptions, such as these and others, usually indicates, among other things, historical experiences that are fuelling our current interpretations. Or, we may be applying our own rationale for similar actions or words that we have done or said. Perhaps, others suggest things to us that we adopt to explain matters. In any case, it appears that something gets in our way from checking out what we are perceiving and assuming – and so does the other person.
Whatever the reason, the mere act of assuming usually gets us into trouble. For instance, we tend to respond to the other person based on what we think we know, not what we know to be true. That is, our assumptions are not necessarily a legitimate and well-founded reflection of the other person or her or his intent.
This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which you are making assumptions about another person who is irritating you and a conflict might be looming between you.
- What started your experience of being in conflict with the other person? In what ways are things between you escalating since the time you first felt the tension between you?
- Why did it escalate, do you think?
- What specifically is the other person saying or doing that is provoking you? What about that is especially upsetting or concerning for you?
- What possible reasons might she or he have for saying or doing that, do you suppose? What other possible reasons might a friend of yours who observed the two of you give?
- If you have ever said or done what the other person said or did that is provoking you, what were your reasons? In what ways, if any, might this apply in your dynamic?
- What keeps you from checking out your assumptions?
- If you are inaccurate in your interpretations of the other person’s reasons and motive, what then?
- What are you saying or doing that might be provoking the other person?
- What reasons might she or he attribute to you regarding your actions or the words you are saying (or how you are saying them)? What reasons would you give her or him instead?
- What do you suppose might be precluding the other person from engaging you in a discussion to better understand you and your reasons?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?