Friday, August 26, 2011

Assumption, Speculation and Expectation = Dysfunction In Communication

Disclaimer: I'm not educated or qualified in any way to say the things I am about to say but as usual that won't stop me from saying them anyway.

First of all, let me admit that I don't have a PhD or an MD or a Fiddle-dee-dee but I have been laboring for many years on my hard-earned SFD (Survivor of Family Dysfunction). I used to say that my family put the 'funk' in dysfunction. Now I realize that we are not the only family to bear that dubious distinction. There are skeletons in the closets of even the 'finest' of families. Unfortunately, I grew up in an atmosphere of constant chaos and instability. My mother had a mental illness that made her extremely volatile, my father, though very loving, was mainly a drive-by dad and my stepfather was a forbidding and frightening guy who, shall we say, believed most vehemently in verbal intimidation and corporal punishment. That's all I'm willing to share about that right now. I only brought it up to lead into the heart of what's on my mind.

I recently found myself in a situation that resurrected some old ghosts I had thought to be ancient history. I guess I should have known better than to forget that if you keep turning the crank long enough, the 'ol jack-in-the-box will inevitably pop out and startle the mess out of you even though you know to expect it eventually. Let me introduce the main characters in this particular drama: Assumption, Speculation and Expectation. The usual suspects in most disagreements. When all three are applied together? The quintessential kiss of death for relationships.

Without going into details (because they aren't really vital to the message) I will say that I got caught up in a tangle recently because all parties involved (myself included) did not communicate openly and clearly from the beginning and though I have to believe everyone had the best of intentions, started operating out of misconceptions rather than trying to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I've seen this kind of situation play out so many times in my lifetime. My mom and my step dad were notorious for putting my sisters and I directly in the cross-hairs of this type of thing. Sadly, I went through it with a close friend last year and though I'm hopeful, I have as yet been unable to resolve the situation. It is just so destructive and frustrating and this recent episode took me back to that place of helplessness that results from feeling misunderstood and wishing in vain that I could just push the rewind button and start all over again on the right foot. Unfortunately once the damage is done it's hard to repair.

ASSUMPTION is so dangerous because more often than not, if we are not fully in possession of all of the facts but make decisions about what we assume others are thinking or feeling...we get it ALL WRONG. If we act on the assumption, we tend to make big mistakes that are hard to undo. SPECULATION is just as destructive. Thinking that we know what is going to happen in the future can lead to huge missteps and errors in judgement and let's face it...nobody really knows the potential actions of another no matter how well we think we know them. People are pretty unpredictable. Which one of these gets me into the most trouble? EXPECTATION. This is my Achilles heel. Always has been and I'll be the first to admit that my expectations, not only of others, but of myself, can create a lot of unnecessary heartache for me. I tend to mistakenly expect other people to do what I would do in a given situation. This is so unfair, as the other person involved has no earthly idea what I want them to do but I still get upset or disappointed when things don't turn out the way I hoped they would. I think a lot of us get caught in this trap. We expect others to know what we want, what we're feeling and what we are thinking without articulating these things and then both parties end up feeling misunderstood, let down and frustrated. Am I right or am I right?

Pointing fingers is, well, pointless. We are all guilty at one time or another of perpetrating any or all of these injustices upon one another. The key to correcting these practices, in my mind, is being aware of them in the first place. That's why I brought it up. I, personally, have some work to do in these areas. Do you? That's what I thought. Well, good for you for admitting it! :0)

I find most of the best solutions to life's sticky issues in God's word. Here are some verses that relate to this post that I find helpful and hope you will, too.

Romans 15:5 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

Proverbs 17:14
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

Philippians 2:3-4
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:14 -16
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold on to the word of life.”

Of course there are many others. God's grace is such an incredible gift. Like most gifts, it increases in value and worth when it is shared with others. I say let's extend grace to others by giving them the benefit of the doubt regardless of how things may look at first glance. Let's reach out in love by waiting patiently for things to unfold rather than jumping the gun and trying to figure out people or things before the time is right. Lastly, let's try to have faith in others around us to do the best they can and keep our expectations realistic.

And now, my dear friends, I will descend from my soapbox and bid you farewell. I assume you have enjoyed reading this post. I'll speculate that you will be back soon to read another post as soon as a new one comes along. I expect to see you back here very soon. Oh, wait...what did I just say? Yeah, well...old habits die hard, don't they? What can I say? I'm moving in the right direction. Thank God.




  1. Wow...I just went through this when I commented on someone bog post to present a different perspective.
    I ended up writing a post of my own about the experience.
    Awesome perspective!!!!

  2. You are so very right. If we were able to do these things more, we would be so much better off. Thank you for putting this one into words!

  3. Thanks for this, Lady Catherine! Loved it! :)

  4. Cat,
    I have fallen into this same pit so many times. Believe me, I ask God every day to continue to change me in these areas. I tend to project my thinking onto others and am often asking myself (sometimes out loud) "Now, why would they do something like that?" and saying things like "I would never do that." You're not alone:) The great thing is God loves us right through it all.

  5. Thanks for the comments you guys. Funny how just the idea that 'I am not alone' goes such a long way toward making us feel better! So glad you took the time to let me know you were here!

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