“I assume you have a cell phone.”
“Why do you assume?
“Because everyone has a cell phone. Who doesn’t?”
“Can everyone afford a cell phone?
“Exactly. You should have asked if I had one.”
Assumptions can make us appear foolish sometimes because we don’t have all the facts. We believe someone has a cell phone, as the example conversation demonstrates, but not everyone can afford one. Likewise, not every American household owns a television, though a majority of us do. Some people can afford one, but choose to abstain from watching television, or they cannot afford one, or for other reasons. Sometimes, making assumptions can turn us into fools, if we are not careful. It’s better to ask for confirmation or clarification, in certain situations.
Another instance is which we can appear foolish is assuming someone has watched a particular movie based on the American population watching it. “The Lion King” is a classic, but not everyone has seen it. Or, assuming everyone knows a specific celebrity for his or her work, such as Michael Jackson, though almost everyone knows him.(There may be a few people who know nothing about his fame.) We assume to avoid learning more about a person or situation. This can backfire on us.
On the flip side, assumptions can help us avoid being a target for mistreatment or disdain from others.
For example, if someone has been practicing law for twenty years, and you ask,”Do you know what cross-examination means? or craft the question with contempt as this:”You know what cross-examination is, right ? you are insulting the person. Sometimes, it’s acceptable to assume to save face. When someone holds an profession for a certain number of years and that person’s intelligence is questioned, resentment will breed. It’s one thing to consult someone to ask about his or her profession in gaining more information for yourself and be clueless about their profession; another thing is to ask that same question or set of questions, knowing the number of years that person held that position.
Assumptions I call “safe” are those that it’s likely that person knows more about a specific topic than you, or that person is this or that, or he or she did or said this, among other scenarios, considering the circumstances.
Main point: making assumptions does not make one necessarily an a** (or fool, as I prefer to say it) OUT of you and me, but, perhaps, one IN FRONT of you and me, if one is not aware of the situation or circumstances. (See what I did there? Consider saying that next time when someone makes an assumption.)
Note: AssUMe–the “a” word is in front of “u” and “me”