Assess don’t assume
In many aspects of the people professions we are called upon to assess situations, weigh them up as part of making a decision as to how to deal with them. This is skilful work that can be helped by having a good working knowledge base around people (about motivation, for example). But what is not helpful is the tendency to rely on untested assumptions. At one extreme, this can amount to relying on stereotypes, crude caricatures that present a heavily distorted picture. But we can also encounter more subtle distortions, mainly based on the assumption that other people see the world the way we do. For example, something we see as simple and straightforward may be quite scary and disconcerting to someone else. It is therefore important that we make the effort to develop a more holistic picture, taking account of other people’s perspectives and checking things out where necessary rather than taking things for granted and potentially producing an inaccurate and unhelpful picture of the situation.