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 Post subject: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:49 am 
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So I was reading The Rules of Engagement the other day while deciding whether to post or not, and I came across this:

Quote:
Am I in a frame of mind to be conscious of how my words will be heard?

Of course we cannot take responsibility for whatever anyone may project onto our statements. We can, however, be attentive to likely assumptions and work on our language to try to mitigate that as well as be willing to take ownership of any unclear language or mistaken assumptions of our own.

As a courteous person, I try to be conscious of how my words may be heard by others, but at the same time I try not to make too many assumptions about how people may react to those words. This was the first time I noticed that The Rules of Engagement allow for "likely assumptions."

So what's up with that? Does "be[ing] attentive to likely assumptions" contradict The Four Agreements? I tend to make assumptions about people based on their past behavior, because it seems reasonable to expect that behavior in the future, but as far as I can tell, The Four Agreements makes no allowances for "likely assumptions" or reasonable expectations. I'm so confused!

Thanks for reading,

EmJay

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:57 am 
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Whenever we attempt to communicate, we make assumptions. In writing this, I am making an assumption that you will understand the words I use. And that you will be able to put those words together to understand my message, or at least something close to it.

That's not the kind of assumptions that the Four Agreements is saying not to make.

What the Rules of Engagement is talking about is, I shouldn't assume that everyone will understand what I say the way I would. I shouldn't assume they have the same vocabulary. I shouldn't assume they think just like me.

Instead, I should think about who I'm talking to or writing for. Think about how that person or people will hear or read my words.

It actually fits pretty well with "don't make assumptions". Don't assume that the reader thinks like me. Don't assume the reader is ready for my words of wisdom and will welcome them gladly. Don't assume that the wisdom that's obvious to me will be obvious to them.

And, along with that, be aware that, due to lack of tone of voice and some words having multiple meanings, what we write may come across different than we meant for purely language reasons. Try to be aware of double meanings and ambiguities.

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:08 pm 
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EmJay,

None of this stuff is like the large volumes of law on your lawyer's bookshelf, to be pored over and interpreted and harmonized. They're guides, they're fuzzy around the edges, and none of us can keep them perfectly.

I think that in the case of making assumptions of present behavior based on observed past behavior we're using experience to guide us. For example, if someone has consistently bullied me in the past, experience is that he will probably bully me the next time I encounter him. I can reasonably expect it.

But we can keep the "no assumptions" agreement if we are open to changes in behavior. For example, if that bully starts greeting me warmly, I'm going to be suspicious of it because the behavior doesn't match past experience. But if the warm greetings become consistent, I may choose to risk returning the warm greeting because it appears that the behavior may have changed. It is no longer necessarily reasonable to expect being bullied.

Note that the agreement about assumptions talks about statements. If I say, "I can't pick you up for church on Sunday," you may assume from that any number of things -- I don't like you anymore, I am not going to church myself, whatever -- when you don't really know why I said it. One way to keep this agreement is to ask me why I can't pick you up. Another way is to simply accept that I won't pick you up and decide you won't worry about why. I think this is the kind of thing this agreement is more about.

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:01 pm 
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"It's possible that she will assume I mean the worst if I use that word."

... is different from ...

"She always thinks I mean the worst no matter what."

One is preparatory work in the process of crafting our approach so that we may decide to take extra caution to soften things & offer extra reassurances to make extra sure our words are not summarily dismissed.

The other is an assumption.

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:02 pm 
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One more note, regarding the "likely assumptions" mentioned in the Rules of Engagement, that you quote. It's talking about other people's assumptions. Where it later talks about one's own assumptions, it's "mistaken assumptions", hardly an endorsement of making assumptions.

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:45 am 
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I'm so afraid that people will think I'm crazy when I admit this, but at first I thought the responses I received above were condescending. I was convinced that the people who responded must be exasperated with me for daring to ask such a stupid question. I don't know where this stuff comes from, but it is obviously my stuff. So I took a break for a few days, then returned to reread. Now the responses I received seem quite reasonable and polite. I'm still struggling with how I can "be attentive to [other people's] likely assumptions" without making a few assumptions of my own, or without indulging in some mind-reading and fortune-telling, but I'm sure I'll get it eventually. Thanks for your input!

Take care,

EmJay

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:25 am 
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Of course you're crazy. Can you name anyone here who is not? Shees. That's why we have our speshul bus and our speshul school here. It's also why we're waaaaay cooler than normals and nons.

It seems, according to the stuff I've read, the kind of assuming you describe is a quite common pattern for folks afflicted with some PDs. It's a variation or a subset or an element of the fight/flight responses.

One way to "be attentive to others" while not engaging in assumptions is to constantly validate what others are saying. Ask. Reflect. Keep going until they say something like "yeah that's it and that's how it makes me feel... and another thing..." Two nice benefits for you. You know what they are thinking and feeling without making assumptions, and the other feels cared about and attended to.

Just my 2c. Waitin' for the bus.


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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:51 am 
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Quote:
I'm still struggling with how I can "be attentive to [other people's] likely assumptions" without making a few assumptions of my own, or without indulging in some mind-reading and fortune-telling, but I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

Yes, it would be assumptive to come up with a list of likely assumptions. The difference (and the thing that prevents it from being a full-fledged assumption on your part) is that you do not act on them!

"I think this might be the case, is it?" is paying attention to likely assumptions, by making a quasi-assumption of your own without fully owning it.

As IBF said, asking makes the difference! If you ask, you're not acting on "this is the case for sure without exception or qualification." If you ask, it's seeking clarity and confirmation before proceeding. If you ask and they confirm that is indeed the case, it's not an assumption to proceed on that information as fact because it has become fact.

If you don't ask and still proceed as if the "likely assumption" is fact then your actions have made it an assumption.

It doesn't necessarily have to be mind-reading or assumptions, either. "If this were me, if these things were being presented to me, if I were in an agitated state, would I see these things as sane/rational or would I read into them/see negativity?" That's not mind-reading - that's self-reflection and empathy.

"I've said 'ABC' before and it caused trouble so if I say 'ABC' again, is it likely to be heard as 'ABC' or is it more likely to be heard as 'XYZ' and cause trouble again as it has historically in the past?" isn't an assumption so much as a comprehensive look at past performance as an indicator of future results.

Does that help any?

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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:58 am 
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Hi ((Emjay)):

I think that the concepts cannot, in fact, be neatly reconsciled (??), and that that is a very intelligent observation to make.

As long as the concept/question of 'are we making warranted assumptions' enters our consciousness while in the thinking process, I think that's the best we can hope for, and that such an analysis is more likely than not to be of benefit in negotiating the gray.

Great to 'read' with you again. I'm scared of your Bruins next year, but not as much as I bet that Pitt crowd is. :wink

As ever,

J./Candle

P.S. Um, just read Ash's crosss=post. What she said. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:46 am 
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Pffffffffttttt.


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 Post subject: Re: Assumptions & Rules of Engagement
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:32 pm 
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Quote:
Of course you're crazy. Can you name anyone here who is not? Shees. That's why we have our speshul bus and our speshul school here. It's also why we're waaaaay cooler than normals and nons.

thanks for this- good for me to hear something Good and positive about having BPD, since I have been grappling with acceptance that I even have it, go into denial, behave in more damaging behavior or thinkin, come to my senses-then repeat. so I plan on checking in here everyday to help me stay on track as I navigate the complexities of my insurance co, and wait for a shrink and or therapist.

so yeah, we Rule- all the most interesting and most "real" people I know have gotten that way through facing struggle. I would not want to assume that people who have had easy lives and minimal struggles are dull,lifeless, robots- how would I know- all my friends have been through some hard stuff. Besides- those perfect life people probably think they have it hard when their mani/pedi appt gets cancelled at the last minute, and they have No Idea What to Do with their time. :-)

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