Thing #31. Never assume.
Never assume. This is a principle I learned from my journalism prof. If you failed to clarify the response to an interview question, don’t assume you know what he meant. Go back to the source and get all the information you need. Never assume.
It’s a motto that well serves the news business. But in recent years I’ve realized how much we need to apply this to each other as human beings.
It’s easy to assume the mom speaking a little too harshly to her children in the grocery store is simply a bad mother. But we don’t know that for sure. She may very well have been up all night with a sick child—as a good mother would—and is exhausted.
We can’t assume that every overweight person we see is unable to control their appetite. (There are lots of reasons people gain weight; overeating is just one of them.)
We can’t assume that the new employee who passed us in the hall without a hello is a snob. (She could be shy or distracted or worried.)
We can’t assume people who appear happy on the outside aren’t miserable on the inside. (Do I need to explain this one?)
We can’t assume that every homeless person we pass on the street is an uneducated drug addict.
(Their stories may surprise you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THxtcWNw3QA)
Reserve judgment until you know the whole story. And if you can’t know the whole story, don’t judge.