“Check Your Assumptions” Brief Summary of Show
In this episode learn to take inspired action and “Check Your Assumptions” and turn them into understanding, better communication, and beyond. Learn why we make assumptions and why we should check our assumptions. Hosts Kyle and Christopher tell a story about making assumptions, and why we should always check our biases.
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Christopher Lawrence LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/career-life-coach-christopher-lawrence/
Kyle Kalloo LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-kalloo/
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“Check Your Assumptions” Transcript
I make assumptions that the reason why you’re asked is because of the color of your skin.
And it’s an assumption.
It is an assumption, right? It’s like, well.
[Announcer] Is the thought of being imperfect, keeping you from taking action? Welcome to “Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans.” Each week, we give you real life stories and thought-provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions. From the heart of Calgary, Canada, here are your hosts, award-winning coaches Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.
Coach Kyle, what are we talking about today?
Actually, it’s about assumptions. I wanna get into assumptions, if that’s okay. And it’s not that we… Okay, let me back up. Oftentimes, people tell you, don’t make assumptions, right? You shouldn’t make assumptions. And it’s not that you shouldn’t make assumptions, it’s more around, you need to check your assumptions. And I got an interesting story. So, let’s just do this.
Oh, I love a story.
Okay. So, as you know, we’re in the parkade. We have a parkade in our building, right? So, we drive-in in. I think this happens for most people. I’m not sure how everyone else’s parkade got set up, but you have to fob in. Now, usually, you know, you hit the fob, the garage door opens, you go down, and you do your parking. However, this one time, this guy actually, someone was in front of me. And so, he goes in and, you know, I follow him, right? So, I think that’s called tailgating, right? So, I followed him in, instead of waiting for it to close, even though there’s a sign that says you should, and da, da, da. Then, you wait. I don’t know who else is doing that. But, I went in, right? So, fair enough, he parked. I go down to my parking spot and what have you. So, he comes down one level cause you could walk down. He comes from one level and he says, “Hello, can you prove to me that you’re supposed to park there?” Now, you know me. Of course, I had to filter what I wanted to respond to him with. And I just said, “Um, actually, are you with the property management company? Do you… Are you on the board? Are you part of the company, or…” ‘Cause I said, “Why you asking me to prove that I could park here?” right? You know, I think there’s other ways you could go about it, but we’re gonna talk about that in a second. But, he just says, “Can you park?” I said, “Oh sure, if I can prove that I’m supposed to park here, can you also prove to me that you were supposed to park in here?
See, that is interesting, right? Because it’s like, people do tailgate us into buildings. You know, it happens, apartment buildings, parking lots, whatever, when they’re secured. And so, we’re told by, you know, landlords, and owners, and everything else to check, right? Like, we are told to do that check. And so, it is kind of a thing. His language was a bit funny though, right? Like, can you prove to me-
that you’re supposed to park there?
Yeah. Why didn’t he-
Like, maybe I would’ve made a different-
just ask me for my FOB? Yeah, why didn’t he-
just ask me for the fob? Why didn’t he just say, “Hey, I just wanna double check,” ’cause we’ll be in a little bit of a sketchy area in the sense that people are sketchy around the area, right?
Well, yeah. I mean, it’s actually a pretty good area, but there is a lot of, kind of… But, I also know how you dress, right? So, it’s like, I know what kind of vehicle you have. It’s very nice. It’s brand new. I know how you dress. You’re always dressed to the nines. And to be fair, this was in the morning in an office building, in a professional office building.
Okay, so… Okay, I don’t get it. What does that have to do with anything?
Well, I think what I’m saying is like, if you were gonna make it, like if he was gonna make an assumption, like a concerned assumption that you weren’t supposed to park there.
‘Cause I kinda looked like I belong is what you’re saying.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. But again, like this is the challenge with not checking your assumptions.
Mm-hmm. No, here’s the thing. We will always have assumption. Then, we get that. And you know, when I look back at it and again, in my years of leadership and working with some plethora, different style of personality of people, sometimes what we meant to say is not what we end up saying, right? And so, there’s other things that kind of comes in and we know how in our line of work can things that we’ve done, how that could really go off, right?
Someone could really be set up and that conversation could have simply gotten. Now, I could have said to him, right? So, let me own my piece first. I could have said to him, “You know what, I’m actually curious why you’re asking me to prove why I’m supposed to park here. Is it because you’re questioning if I should be in the building or not? Can I show you that I also have the same FOB as you do to enter this parkade?
See, so this is… Right. So, this is the thing, right? Because, I know that that happened to you less than a week before you tailgated somebody else into the building.
And someone came, but the way they asked you was, they said, “Hey, do you mind showing me your FOB?”
“I just need to check because we’re supposed to.” Whereas this other guy, I think you… When you had told me about the story originally, there was some tone. It was the way he asked, “Can you prove that you’re supposed to park there?”
And then, I also remember you saying, “Well, sure. If you can prove that you work here or that you’re supposed to park there.” right? Like it was, you know? And so, your response actually, your immediate response was defensive. You know what’s interesting, Kyle? So, I talked to Catherine who, you know, who works in this building as well, when it’s not COVID, and all that kind of thing.
And so, I asked her this morning in preparation for this podcast, “Catherine, how many times have you tailgated somebody into the parking lot?” And she’s like, “Since we started working here.” And I’m like, “Yeah.” She’s like, “Oh, I don’t know, like lots?” And I’m like, “Yeah, me too.” I said, “How many times has somebody come and asked you if you work in the building?” She’s like, “Never.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I tailgate, you know? Probably, you know, at least once a month.” There’s somebody in front of me and I don’t even bother pulling my fob out. And I just kind of tailgate them in. And I’m prepared if somebody asks, ’cause I’m prepared to say like, “Hey, here’s my fob.” But, it is funny to me how many… Like, it’s happened to you more than twice, but twice recently.
And it is funny to me, how many times you have been asked to prove that you’re supposed to be in this building. And so, I make assumptions because of where we are in our planet, right now.
I make assumptions that the reason why you’re asked is because of the color of your skin.
And it’s an assumption.
It is an assumption, right? It’s like, well… Like, why are they asking you? Like, why you? Like, you are dressed so… Like sometimes, I come in looking like a schlep. Especially, on a Friday or something, right? I’m wearing jeans and T-shirts and ball caps, right? And, you know, it’s like, I might not even bother trimming my beard, you know, whatever. And I’ve never been asked if I’m supposed to be in this building. I’ve had people let me into the parkade without checking, right? And I know how you dress. Like, you’re always to the nines.
Right? And it comes from your professional background of working in companies and professions for, you know, somewhere between 40 and 50 years.
You know, that’s an interesting assumption though. It’s interesting. There’s a lot of assumptions that’s happening, right?
You know, and I think that’s a different conversation. I think, Christopher, we could have, because to be honest, my assumption wasn’t there, where you went with it, only because there’s many occurrences in my life where I’m just used to it. I just… If I had to think about all of those things all the time, it’s usually other people who mentioned that to me. Cause they will say exactly what you said, right?
Though I… That has never happened to me. I’ve-
Do you think his tone betrayed him? Like so, you know, we’re talking about checking your assumptions. Like, I know when I have asked other people, cause I will ask. Like, if I see someone coming in the building, I don’t recognize them, I’m probably gonna ask, you know, be condo buildings, business buildings, we know that we’ve had a couple of break-ins in this building since we moved in only a couple, whereas, other buildings in the area maybe have had more. You know, we’re in the BeltLine in Calgary, right? So, I’m curious like I know when I’ve asked. If I’m afraid, sometimes my tone betrays me and I say the wrong thing like, I know I’m supposed to ask, but I’ll say the wrong thing.
Right? It’s like… And so, I’m curious like-
Like, what would you have said?
Well, I might’ve said, “Can you prove that you’re supposed to park there?” And so, I’m curious like, did you make an assumption that he was challenging you, versus actually maybe, he was a little bit nervous to ask, but trying to do the right thing?
Yeah, that’s great. My first response was, “F you!” Like, “What do you mean I can prove?” Because it just, it didn’t sound even right. Like, even if he was, ’cause even if he answered that question says, “Yeah, actually, I am. I own the building.” Right? I would have still had an issue with how he asked it, right?
But, I was just like, “Prove it.” Like, “Do you want…” ‘Cause that’s just exactly what I went with it. I’m like, “Do you walk around with your landlord-tenant agreement and lease agreements?” And say, “Oh, yeah, here you go. Here’s the parking spot. Here’s my vehicle in the said spot.” Like, “No one walks around with that.” It’s like someone going to someone when they say, “I’m sorry, ma’am. That is our company policy.” And they say, “Prove it, show me the company policy.”
“Where’s that written? There’s nothing written anywhere.”
You know what, I’m listening to what you’re saying, and I’m thinking about this. And I’m like, “I think I would have made similar assumptions to you as well.” right? Like, I think, just based off of how he maybe asked and approached it, I might’ve felt defensive. And then, I think about this and I think, “Well, what was his original assumption?” That’s my first question, right? And then, I guess my second assumption is like, was there an… I guess that my question for you is, is there an expectation that people are always going to ask the right way? ‘Cause, I think we hear people’s words. Like, I look at this, and this is a totally different episode. We have gotten stuck on labels in this society. You know, we use things like white privilege and white fragility and so, there’s an assumption that, because we’re white, we have fragility or we have privilege and yes, that is true in so many cases. But, Kyle, you and I have talked about this and we know how I grew up. And I was like, “Girl, I have been discriminated against for the color of my skin. I have had somebody scream out their car because of the color of my skin. Because of where I grew up and that kind of thing. And so, it’s like, I’m like reading all this stuff and I’m like, “What?” “I don’t like…”
I don’t understand this, but I think that the problem is that, we actually get stuck on the labels.
And so, if we stop using labels and we just focus on data, then we’re dealing with the real issue. There is an issue with people of color in terms of equality and racism and everything else. That’s the issue, but we’re stuck on the labels. And so, I think about this in this case with this guy and, you know, not to belabor the point here, but I wonder, is there an assumption that he should have said it the right way? You know, when maybe he was completely unskilled at it? Like, if you knew that he was terrified, but trying to do the right thing, would you have changed how you responded to him?
Yes, I probably would have, but you just actually said something that I’m thinking. Here’s the thing, when we come back to control around self and you and I do a lot of work in this space, you know, with our clients and when we speak at these different events. And here’s the thing, could he have said it the right way, yea or nay? Again, yes, no, don’t know, could have, should have, but I think what is consistent is who we are as individuals. Like, if I’m a person, I have an opportunity to disarm, dismantle, you know, that whole situation and influence our whole situation to something else. So, regardless of if he said it right or not, I still can choose my response. I still can make those assumptions for myself by checking my assumption says… Even if he said that to me, even if he said, “You piece of whatever! You POC this.” I could simply still same. I’m not making any qualms that it’s not gonna hurt. I’m not gonna feel what I’m gonna feel about it, but I could simply say, “You know what? I just want you to know, I do have a spot here with the building. I do have a FOB to come into the building. If you would like to know specifically, if this spot is registered to me, I think you have to take that up with the management company and not actually me.”
Right, yeah. Yeah, totally-
Regardless of how he asked it. I still can control that, because I’m always concerned or curious, you know, if we are sitting there waiting for people to ask it the right way or use the right words. Then, does that give me permission to go off when they don’t?
But, we do as a society. And I think actually that’s what we’re seeing. And so, this is the thing for our listeners today, it’s actually about taking inspired actions with check your assumptions, right? And so, actually, Kyle, you know me, I always like to look up a little bit of research or a little bit of-
I was just gonna ask you, actually. I was gonna say, what is research on this?
Yeah, so actually, I was curious, why do we make assumptions? So, actually, this is our brain’s way of saving energy. We make assumptions. So, if we may know assumptions, we would be exhausted all the time. So, what happens is that we draw on our past experiences and by doing that, and most of this happens subconsciously, we find patterns in how the world works, right?
So, somebody comes to you with a certain tone. If you’ve heard that tone a hundred times before in your life, and it was always associated with some kind of a negative or positive outcome, you will likely, if you don’t check your assumptions, assume that this is a negative or positive assumption. So, when we… And like, this is what we do, like I have worked with over 2000 clients, Kyle, and the last eight and a half years, you know this and so much of what we do is about checking assumptions, right?
And as a coach, I have come to learn to never assume, although we do. We do, I mean, you have to get on with the day, right?
But, we do is… But we… You know, it is about that try your best to never assume. And really, you know, as you would remind me, it’s not about not assuming, it’s about checking the assumption.
So, basically what happens is when we encounter a seemingly new situation, we actually apply the patterns first. So, basically this is talking about our biases or assumptions, right? We apply the patterns. And we apply that to the new environment, or the new circumstance, or the new situation. So, basically what this process does is it saves us energy of analyzing each situation completely. This comes from the… This specific definition comes from the arbingerinstitute.com. So, this is why we do it. So, to fight assumptions is actually not in your best interests, right? Sorry, to not assume is not in your best interest. And there’s this phrase, “Well, you know, if you assume that makes an asset of you and me.” Right? And it’s kind of as colloquialism.
But actually, that phrases over simplified, because we’re going to assume. The question is, do you take the pause or the stab to check your assumptions? So now, this is the question, how do our listeners take inspired action to check their assumptions? And I have an idea about this, but I’m curious to hear what you would say, Kyle.
You know what? I liked that. I think, just taking that pause, ’cause sometimes we feel that we have to be automatic, right? And I think, just taking that pause in that moment and say, “Listen, I also have an assumption that I can also assume to put at the other end by saying this person is maybe fearful. Or this person is uncertain.” Right? And so, maybe I need to deferred back to how do I want to respond to that in a disarming way? ‘Cause you know, they’ve said, “An eye for an eye is gonna do what? Leave everyone blind.” And at the end of the day, we don’t. It’s hard to fight water and fire, right? It’s just, you know-
Well, it’s a win-lose situation, right?
Absolutely. It’s crazy.
I think, it’s a win-lose situation or a lose-lose situation. And actually what we want is a win-win situation.
And, what do you think?
Yeah. So, my approach to this would actually be approaching it with absolute curiosity. Meaning, when I’m in the end, “Oh girl, you gotta check yourself sometimes.” Like, it’s okay, because we are imperfect human beings. You’re going to have your initial assumption and reaction first, right? Like, that’s gonna happen. You know, if you grew up in a household, where it was like, reactions were quick and snappy and whatever.
Then, you’re going to have that original assumption first. Like, that’s probably what’s going to happen, right? But then, the idea is to slow down, like it’s okay. I have been in situations where I was terse with somebody.
And then, a stranger. And then, I actually went back and said, “You know what? I’m not proud of how I handled myself, because I didn’t ask enough questions. I’m sorry.” And they’re like, “No, no. Like honestly, it doesn’t matter to me.” And I’m like, “No, but it matters to me, and it bothers me. This is gonna bother me. I need to let you know that I didn’t respond in the way that I wanted to.” And maybe, what I needed to do was be curious. And I think that’s the point. Like, if we had been curious in that situation with this guy, you know, you could have put a smile on your face, right? You could’ve said… You know, ask the questions, it’s like, “You know, I can show you that I have a fob. And you know, at the next door, right? ‘Cause how our building is set up, you need the same FOB to get in, any way. You know, I can show you that if you prefer.” And at that point, he would have probably been like, “Whatever.” And so, unfortunately, the way that this circumstance lasted or ended is that there was a sour taste in your mouth and his mouth, you know?
Yeah, and you know what’s interesting is a week later he tailgated me.
Into the building?
Yeah, I was just like, right? And you know, an interesting…
Did you say anything,? You should have said something.
Because I was mindful, I could have done, which is I think, this is what people sometimes expect, right? Is I could have done what he did, and maybe no one would have blamed me. People were like, “Yeah, go ask him.” But, you know what? Again, back to that thing that we’re starting is a… That would be a win-lose situation. Me, going up would have been punitive. Just like, “Mmm, where’s your FOB? Where’s your proof?” Right? And maybe he, in that moment, he realized, “Damn, look at me doing the exact same thing, and maybe he’ll just walk away from it.” Right?
Right. I think you should actually go find his vehicle and leave him a coffee gift card.
Mm-hmm, I know his vehicle. I hope he’s getting no coffee gift card. I mean, what do you guys think? Should I go leave him a coffee gift card?
What would the losers think?
Why do I always have to go up?
Why don’t leave it on a high note? No.
Why do I have to-
Why? Because that’s the standard that you hold yourself to, right?
Like, somebody has to be a hero in these situations and maybe the hero moment is, you know, for folks when they’re out there doing this as remaining curious, like actually asking yourself, “Why am I assuming that, because this person’s doing this or that, like, we do it in our vehicles all the time, you know, check your assumptions in your vehicles. When someone cuts you off, our immediate reaction is to be ticked off.” Like, I have the gentlest clients, Kyle. One of them was on the phone with me, while she was driving. Not for a session, I was just checking in. And she’s like the gentlest, softest client. And all of a sudden, she forgot she was on the phone with me. And she said, “Oh, come on. For F sakes! You’re effing kidding me! Get the F out of the way you stupid a-hole!” Except she was using the words, and I started laughing and I’m like, “Ah, I’ll use a fake name. Ah, Jennifer, you know, you’re on the phone with me, right?” And so, it’s like, you know, it actually ended up being a great coaching opportunity because it’s like, what are you assuming has happening?
Like, they are not doing this to destroy your day. So, I think, curiosity is the first thing. Asking or understanding, asking yourself, why do you think they’re doing that before we respond? The second thing I would say is, make the opposite assumption. So, especially in traffic, when you don’t have the opportunity, make the assumption that they’re rushing to the hospital. Make the assumption that they made an honest mistake because I have yet to meet a single person who hasn’t made a mistake driving, forgetting to signal, not seeing the vehicle when you’re changing lanes, all of that stuff. So, make the opposite assumption that it was just, you know, it was just a really simple error-
or that maybe,
Could be that.
they’re rushing to the hospital. Maybe, they have to go put their pet down. Like, I don’t know, right? But, make the opposite assumption. So, if you’re going to make an assumption, why that assumption? You know, why the assumption that gets you angry, choose the assumption that taps into your compassion or empathy. Imagine how different our world would be.
Totally, and again, don’t miss my suggestion too, about the first thing is to pause, right?
just take that pause and then become curious, then think about the opposite assumption. And if I could add four, because we’re overachievers here. If I could just add the fourth one is sometimes, depending on the situation, we may also inquire about the assumption, right? I could say to you, “Christopher, what assumption are you making right now?” Or I could say, “Christopher, can I just share with you the assumption I have right now?” right? ‘Cause then, it also furthers the conversation of being curious. So, those are the four things.
I totally agree with you and Kyle, I think that’s the challenge for us and our listeners, being imperfect human beings who want to take inspired action is we want to keep checking that assumption. So, to our listeners, we wanna hear your stories. If you had to take imperfect inspired action on checking your assumptions, what would you do today in the next 24 hours? Give us a story where you did this really well. Even telling us your story reinforces that behavioral patterning in your brain. So, you’ll start to think this way more and more. We wanna hear your stories, folks. We’re so excited. We’re so excited to hear your stories. We wanna learn more. And certainly, I know lots of you will have comments for Kyle about that coffee cart and what he should do.
Yeah, guys, I-
If you’re on my side, you’re gonna say he should put that coffee card in with a little note that says, like in the guys wiper blade saying, “Hey, a few weeks ago, I tailgated you in. You asked me a question in hindsight, I realized that you were asking for the safety of the building, but the way I responded was probably not favorable. Here’s a coffee on me in the coffee shop below the, you know, in the bottom of the building here. Hope you have a great week” Girl, put that energy into the world.
Totally, or for the other folks, it could be “No, he got what he deserved. I’m just saying. I’m just saying.” No, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Guys, thank you so much.
If you guys hate Kyle, it’s okay because I hate Kyle too. Okay guys, can’t wait to see you all next week.
See you next week.
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I did manage to call her a fucking bitch later and…
Wait, can you say that?