Image via WikipediaAssumptions produce more communication problems than one female (doe) rabbit's production of babies (kits). Keeping track of the effects of assumptions can be about as difficult as herding rabbits. But the manifold frustrations bred by wrong assumptions inspires us to take note and to remember the potential harm.
What is an assumption, in communication? Wikipedia says, "In logic an assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts." In other words, an assumption is real or a fraud, created before, or whether or not, we have proof. We may base our "fact" on past experiences that do or do not relate specifically to the communication topic or the person communicating with us.
One rabbit is cute and cuddly. A multitude of rabbits loose on your property does not have the same appeal as a few in a pretty cage or enclosure. False assumptions are never cute or cuddly, if they do harm, which they often do. They may appear to have truth, based on appearances half-seen or facts derived out of their full context. We also might create a false assumption due to our uncertainties or insecurities. In other words, we tend to expect the worst when a routine or practice is not conformed to. For example, do you expect quick replies to your IM's, e-mails, or text messages to specific people? If the quick reply does not come, do you wonder why or even stress about the change in routine, habit, or expected result?
As a writer, do you assume a prompt reply will come to you, for your queries to editors or submitted manuscripts? That's an example of an assumption, or expectation, not based on fact and also not based on common practice. In other words, it is a hope, but not an expectation based on reality.
With time and enough disappointments, we begin to realize that quick answers or feedback are not the norm when dealing with editors, especially editors with whom we have no relationship, yet, professionally.
The top communication problem to avoid, then, is to assume that your communication will get approval or a fast response. Let it be a terrific surprise if it does happen, not something taken for granted.
We become increasingly good communicators when we can avoid presumption, assumption, or expectation not based on the norms of the publishing world.