The one HIDDEN assumption that might cause a lot of pain

Over the years I have heard a lot of friends about their disappointment (and sometimes, pain) about someone in their network.

Somebody in the network did not understand them fully.

Somebody didn’t care for them as much as they should have.

Somebody said something they should not have said.

Somebody said something about them in their back.

Somebody behaved in a way that’s inappropriate.

You might relate to one or more of the above too.

If we can abstract this out, 80% of these problems can be categorized as “someone doing something that you were not expecting.”

It is a clear case of expectation mismatch.

With that in the background, let me state the one HIDDEN assumption that might cause you a lot of pain.

You assuming that the other person can somehow read your mind and know exactly what you are expecting them to say or do.

For you, it’s common sense.

When it’s common sense, there is no need to state it explicitly.

So, where’s the real problem?

The real problem is that the other person is NOT you.

They have dozens of issues of their own to deal with.

They are not forensically analyzing how you will forensically analyze what they say and do.


If you had somehow clearly communicated to them what you are expecting, something could have been negotiated between the two – ultimately reaching a point where both know what the other is expecting out of each other.

No mind-reading required.

Note: There are exceptions. Some people are going to be jerks and you can’t expect them to behave like non-jerks. We are not talking to them.

Joe Polish said something beautifully in one of the I Love Marketing podcasts. I am paraphrasing here –

It’s important to communicate in a way that the other person understands. It’s even more important to communicate in a way that’s impossible for the other person to misunderstand.

Reread the above quote and internalize it.

It will make a huge difference.

More importantly, it will alleviate a lot of unnecessary pain.

Photo Courtesy: Natalie on Flickr