Do you ever find yourself going straight to negative assumptions about something?
When we do this again and again about a person or situation, we risk not seeing things accurately. One of my coaching clients was struggling with the false assumption that her boss no longer liked her and had cut her off from important communication. As we began our coaching journey, my client would say, “I know he doesn’t like me, because he used to come by my office every Tuesday after his weekly meeting with his colleagues and he no longer does that.” She concluded that there was no other explanation for him not stopping by except that he no longer liked her and wanted to cease interacting with her. As a result of this assumption, her mind led her down a negative spiral in a number of areas and she couldn’t get out of that spiral. Together, we worked on different ideas about how to test whether her assumptions were accurate. Between sessions, she would test out different methods and would report back.
Eventually, she gathered up enough courage to ask her boss why he no longer stopped by after his weekly meetings. To her amazement, she learned that he felt like he was interrupting the great collaboration she had with her staff because they would scatter any time he came into her office. He thought her rapport building with her staff was more important than him swinging by for what he perceived as “just to say hi”. She felt a weight lift off of her shoulders with his response as she not only learned that her assumption wasn’t true, but she also learned that he believed she was doing great things as a leader. Through our coaching sessions, she was able to reframe her assumptions into positive ones and she was able to enjoy her work and work relationships again.