People automatically assume they know all the facts and it not only often gets them into trouble but could cause difficulty for others at the same time.
For example, about a week ago, I was in a busy elevator in a Federal Government department where I’ve been working for the past 4 or 5 years and there was a staffer who I knew quite well next to me in the elevator. I hadn’t worked with him but had with his boss, so he knew the level of client I worked with as an Executive Shadow Coach. As I read a particular email, I started grinning at the content. Unbeknownst to me (and let me clarify I never read anything confidential in a public place), he glanced over my shoulder at my BlackBerry and saw who the email was from.
At the top of his lungs he exclaimed “You got an email from Stephen Harper?” Oh this was WAY too much fun to let go of so I remarked “Yes. He was commenting on my blog” to which this man called out “Stephen Harper reads your blog???” I replied “Yes. Steve reads my blog and I his. Oh and we are co-authors of another blog besides this one.”
Well that was more than he could handle. Keep in mind the rest of the occupants of the elevator were listening intently.
Incredulous, he exclaimed “OUR PRIME MINISTER WRITES A BLOG WITH YOU AND YOU CALL HIM STEVE??” to which I quietly replied “Who said it was the Prime Minister?”
I looked at him and told him he had no business reading someone else’s BlackBerry and if he’s going to do things like that, it’s going to get him into trouble and, by making assumptions, there would be a great chance he’d get the other individual into trouble as well. I work with the highest levels of bureaucracy. All he had to do was tell one of the people who had a Deputy’s ear that I co-wrote anything with the PM and it could jeopardize my work with him/her.
He assumed. If I hadn’t clarified, the others in the elevator would have left certain of something that just wasn’t true. The ramifications could be disastrous.
“The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable” - Paul Broca
How often do you read something at a glance, overhear something mentioned and create an entire scenario around it which just isn’t so? We’ve all been guilty of that over time, no?
Besides which….do you think it’s in the realm of possibility that a Prime Minister would feel comfortable and secure enough in his position to write a blog at all? A whole other question to ponder.