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Note saying "don't make assumptions" and paper clips on a keyboard

Watch Out for Those Big Assumptions

What assumptions are you making? What will you do to challenge them?

Sometimes the assumptions you make get in your way. Here’s an example:

<p></em>The word “polk” is pronounced _____.</p> <p>The word “folk” is pronounced _____.</p> <p>The white of an egg is pronounced _____.</p>

The first 2 blanks set you up to make an assumption—to think a certain way. If you said “yolk” you were following an assumption that was clouding your thinking.

Didn't catch it? The “yolk” is the yellow part of the egg, not the white part. But your assumptions caused you to overlook that.


  • Influence your behaviour and emotions
  • Can be incorrect
  • Can be self-defeating
  • Are to be constantly challenged

Cara’s co-worker is not very communicative or friendly.

Cara could assume:

  • She’s done something to upset her co-worker.
  • Her co-worker is a jerk.

Or Cara could challenge her assumptions and:

  • Realize there’s no law saying her co-worker has to be her friend.
  • Stop feeling guilty or hostile and instead cultivate positive relationships with her other co-workers.

Jamal’s biology teacher is not wildly enthusiastic that he has finally started handing in his homework assignments.

Jamal could assume:

  • He’s wasting his time doing the work.
  • His teacher doesn’t support his efforts.

Or Jamal could challenge his assumptions and:

  • Realize it would be nice if his teacher showed some enthusiasm but it isn’t required.
  • Keep doing the work so he stays in control of his own learning and reaches his goals.
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