Assumptions close us off to possibility. They limit our perspective. Block us from seeing truth. In others and in ourselves.
I arrived at the New York Sport Club on Irving Place at 7:35 am today. The gym typically opens at 7 am on Sundays, but the receptionist hadn’t yet arrived. This is not the first time this has happened, at this branch or the other I use.
An older woman who I see each week at this gym, who always gets incensed when the receptionist isn’t there to open the gym on time was, of course, incensed.
Wrapped up in her cloak of anger, as though this was a personal attack on her, the woman seethed about the receptionist: “she’s in her bed right now, under the covers.”
I thought that was interesting. Really? How did she know?
I wondered if the receptionist was caught in the subway. Or maybe in an accident. Maybe she was sick. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to work today and had arranged coverage, and the person covering for her was stuck or sick or just forgot.
I didn’t share these possibilities with the woman. But I must have made shock at her assumption clear enough.on her own, she conceded the possibility that there could be an alternate explanation.
It almost didn’t matter. She had already decided that the receptionist is “weird.” She asked me if I had noticed that the receptionist is strange.
I hadn’t noticed.
The only thing I had noticed about this receptionist is that she always smiles when I come to the gym on Sunday morning, and that she is reading The Chakra Book: Energy and Healing Power of the Subtle Body, by Osho. I’ve done a lot of work in that area, and was delighted to see someone interested in that topic.
This woman said that a few weeks ago the receptionist must have been high or drunk, and suggested that I make an effort to notice how “weird” the receptionist is. She also wanted me to call and complain.
It was early, and I don’t like to talk to people before my workout. Energy is contagious. I had to shake off the woman’s judgment and negativity to reboot my day. I nodded without agreeing, and headed to the other nearby branch of the gym.
At the 14th Street New York Sports Club, I saw a man who I typically see on Sunday mornings at the Irving Place gym. He also shared his assumption that the receptionist must still be in bed.
What is with the assumptions?
It struck me how quick both of these people were to assume that the receptionist’s failure to show up to work this morning was her fault. I noticed how quick they were to judge this young woman as lazy and irresponsible. Of all the possibilities that could exist — stalled subway, traffic, injury, accident — they defaulted to an assumption that would paint the young woman at her worst.
All I can do is wonder why? To what end? How does this serve anyone’s interest?
Moreover, how does this get to a solution? This situation has happened before, at different branches of the gym, and with different receptionists. Maybe it calls for a different fix.
But that solution isn’t visible when you look through the narrow lens of assumption and judgment. Instead, I sat in wonder and curiosity. I wondered whether perhaps she had informed someone that she was running late or unable to make it. The gym doesn’t have a system for alerting clients on short notice that a branch won’t be open. Maybe that’s where the real breakdown is.
As I did my morning workout, I came up with a few possible solutions.
We all assume
I’m not immune to the trap of assumptions. We all fall into this hole sometimes. Today reminded me of the danger of assumptions. We limit the potential of others and ourselves.
Curiosity opens up doors to so many more possibilities.
When you find yourself assuming, pause to redirect your mind to get curious. Be in wonder.
Instead of assuming, ask.
Thanks so much for reading. This is day 42 of my daily publishing experiment.