The Problem with Assumptions

Sports-journalism You're the boss. Now, do you like who you're working for?

It's a serious question. Take a moment to think about it.

I'm in awe of business owners. It takes courage to step forward and start a business. Many of my friends run a solopreneur, consultancy, or a small business.

Every single one of the people I know who started a business told me they wished they knew what they know now at the very beginning. It's not a play on words, it's a real desire.

To wit, I'm sure we all wished we knew what we know now when we started our career. Then again, I'm encouraged by the fact that the whole point then is to get started already. The energy and enthusiasm of the beginner carry you a long way. In many cases they help you push through the difficulties.

Gini Dietrich often collects articles and posts helpful to small business owners. This week's top five caught my eye.

The lead story is filed under "you're the boss" in the New York Times, and judging from the comments, it does an excellent job at raising your blood pressure if you're a communications professional, just like the recent posts by Fred Wilson if you're in marketing.

It seems that taking shots at the marketing and communication profession has become the way to get desired news coverage and reactions online — a sport of sorts.

I was not familiar with Bruce Buschel, although I can appreciate his writing style from reading his blog. From the short Wikipedia entry, it seems he has a flair for incisive commentary. With fork in hand, now that he is a restaurant owner. No doubt, Buschel has received his fair share of pitches over the years.

Hard for me to know Mr. Buschel's intentions. However, if I were to take an educated guess, the post achieves a couple of goals — it kills two birds with one stone, so to speak. It gets him nice coverage for the restaurant, it gives him an opportunity to get back at PR flacks, while it link baits traffic to the site.

It takes, without giving much back, just yet.

The problem with assumptions, of course, is that they are just that. I'm telling you a story based upon my interpretation of a situation. The problem with assumptions is also that they paint facts and people with a very broad brush, and once they gain the first mover advantage and get a reaction, the goals are met. The job is done, and so is the harm.

My own take on the situation described is that it takes two people to make a disconnect happen. It takes a bigger person to recognize one, acknowledge it, including the role they played — hence why the answer on whether you like yourself matters — and reconcile any balances upset in the process.

An opportunity missed in this case, it seems.

Not to worry though, Mr. Buschel announces he has a solution for his next post. A breath of fresh air, I'm sure. And a much needed change for an industry that doesn't know what it's doing. If only we had had a hero rescuing it. If only we had energetic writing to set the record straight.

The problem with assumptions is that they skip the whole critical thinking process in favor of just critical. Satisfaction, however, is hollow when it doesn't meet its own true motivation.


If you enjoyed this post from Conversation Agent, subscribe, share and like it.

0 responses to “The Problem with Assumptions”

  1. A wisewoman once asked me if I knew what assume meant as a young professional and I gave her the definition. She smiled and corrected me, it means making an ass of you and me. As a professional, that has stayed me and I try not to make too many assumptions.

  2. I like my boss~ she had me up with the sun’s dawn on a bus to the local uni to pin up marketing fliers and then made me a hazelnut stove pot coffee. Is now allowing me to pursue Facebook whilst sourcing articles (such as yours ~:-) to post to the biz Fan Page and then to have a one hour break catching up on a gos’ n fashion forum~ work from home small biz is just great ~:-)
    Assumptions are short cuts and I like to use my brain and ears to discover ways of seeing things I had not considered before.

  3. The valor of real life connections won’t fade away despite the rise of “virtual” connection platforms. I agree with you that influence is made of several factors, ruled by different aspects like the ones you describe.
    There is an immense value in having knowledge in more than just one niche of people, in “being curious” as you mention, diversifying the circles of people you connect to beyond the single industry your business may operate in.
    I admit I have never been much of a social person, and I was lucky to end up in an awesome team of like-minded people, but from my colleagues that instead cultivated these connections through the years I can very well learn the difference between our two “worlds”.

  4. I laughed out loud at “if only we had a hero rescuing it.” 🙂
    The post definitely got my blood boiling, and it sounds like this guy (after some research) is a real gem with things such as “100 Things My Waitstaff Will Never Say.”
    But it really got me thinking about how we can set expectations better/differently and begin to change this broad stroke perception of the industry. It’s up to us and, if we don’t like these kinds of stories, we need to all band together and begin telling the story differently.

  5. I suspect this comment was meant for the connections in real time post. The part of your comment that could apply here is where you say the diversity of perspectives and behaviors on your team is helpful in bridging the two worlds. Indeed, I wish with social we took the opportunity to bridge the worlds of PR and journalism better.

  6. That’s how the article was positioning our author. Disconnects often happen for lack of desire to bridge communication/expectation gaps. The problem with broad strokes is the broad strokes themselves, which are hard to overcome when the assumption puts the lie in the question. Good of you to approach things with the critical thinking lens.

  7. We were just talking about how the NY Times “author” could have taken a real opportunity to educate his readers, both small business owners and PR pros, on what could be done differently next time. For those who don’t have experience working with PR pros, this certainly does us an injustice. From my perspective, it just makes him look like a not-nice-guy and I won’t be visiting his restaurant. Ever.

  8. It’s easy to be critical and tear things down. It’s hard work to look at a situation that didn’t meet expectations, ask why and attempt to change it for the better. And couldn’t agree more…it takes two to tango.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *