Why What You Don’t Know That You Don’t Know Can Bite You

by Kris Kile


In our last blog post we looked at how conscious assumptions can impact promises made and received. Today we look at the seemingly infinite realm of how UNCONSCIOUS ASSUMPTIONS can impact the promises we have with others.


It is difficult to overstate how vast the realm of unconscious assumptions is. Perhaps you have heard of the concept of “unconscious bias.” This is a bias that is held but we are not even aware that it is a bias. We just unconsciously assume that it is the “way it is,” or “the way they are,” or “the way I am.”


There is an entire industry springing up in the corporate arena to address this dynamic of unconscious bias in companies and organizations today. To not address it is to ask for consistent misunderstanding and much less engagement in the workplace from employees.


Remember the Gallup survey engagement numbers we discussed previously? Well, one of the major dynamics that negatively impacts employee engagement is unconscious bias. This bias can fall in all sorts of categories: ethnic, gender, nation of origin, regional, religion, sexual orientation, family dynamics, employment history, etc., etc.


The point is that in each of these areas (and many more areas) we each have an entire array of beliefs about what is right/wrong, good/bad, preferred/not preferred, helpful/not helpful, etc. And, most of those assumptions are internal, unconscious, and taken at ‘face value.’ We relate to them as if they are the official version of the truth.


Unconscious bias” is only one small subset of the larger pool of “unconscious assumptions.” In addition to the above examples, unconscious assumptions we carry also include things like:
  • Your view of what you do well and what you don’t do well
  • Your view of what everyone else in your life does well and doesn’t do well
  • Your view of the way you are
  • Your view of the way others are
  • Your view of the way “it” is
  • Your view of the way your neighborhood, city, state, country and the world is
  • Your view of the way God is
  • And an endless array of other additional views


In each of these, we have conscious thoughts and points of view we are aware of. And, we have many more unconscious thoughts or simply assumed realities. We long ago accepted these as truth without further need for investigation or consideration.


Think about how this dynamic can impact promises made and promises received. Every time you engage a promise, there is a possibility that your anticipation of how the promise is to be carried out differs from the other people involved. In my view, the number one contributor to this is unconscious assumptions.


The beauty of this is that engaging promise in your life with rigor is an ongoing opportunity to become aware of unconscious assumptions about how things are that you previously were unaware of. Living in promise is the tide that lifts all boats of discovery and awareness. If you want it to. It is your choice.


The price of admission to this way of looking at things is to, once and for all, realize that your version of reality is not, and never has been, the “official version.” It is your version only. Yes, it probably has solid points in it. But it is not the full story. Nor is it the undistorted story.


Accepting this leads to a willingness to be open, curious and vigilant to recognize when a promise is not unfolding in the way you anticipated. This then can be a red flag that spurs you into action-not to make the other wrong, but to discover what is happening that you previously were unaware of. This enables you to clarify, true each other up, and go again to work together to have the promise come to fruition.


What a fabulous way to be in relationship! It is not the path of least resistance. But, it can be the path to fulfillment, effective action and consistent results.


Question: Where have you noticed unconscious assumption impacting promises made in your life or others? Share on Facebook.


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