Check your unstated assumptions…

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We all have unstated assumptions — things we think about ourselves and others. But when it comes to communications planning, the unstated assumptions can undo us…

I met with the client this week to discuss some mailing lists. This meeting was more important than it sounds — and infinitely more confusing.

Three of us attended, and we talked for at least 30 minutes. We were trying to figure out how to ensure our mailing lists were always accurate and up to date. We thought we had it all figured out. In fact, we were ready to move on to the next item on our agenda. But we kept on talking. After another five minutes, it became clear that we hadn’t, in fact, understood each other.

This still boggles my mind! How could we speak for so long, about something so relatively simple, and yet not understand each other. The answer? We were all using different unstated assumptions.

The executive assistant and I assumed that the purpose of the mailing lists was to help the director. The director, on the other hand, assumed the purpose of the mailing lists was to help us. As soon as we articulated this difference, we were able to come to a speedy conclusion. We immediately knew what to do.

At the next meeting with this group, I’ll ask everyone to begin by sharing their assumptions. You might want to consider doing the same. After all, unstated assumptions can kill even the best communications plan.