Assumptions Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth

The strange thing about assumptions is that they can be both an asset and a liability. And they very definitely can be hazardous to your wealth!

We’re told that an assumption is something taken for granted and believed true without proof. For example, even if our headlights only allow us to see about 100 feet ahead of us while driving at night, we assume that the road will continue in front of us.

Mostly we’re right and we take it for granted, requiring no further proof or continued worry. We unconsciously trust that the road will be there as it always has been, and that our assumptions can be put on automatic without liability.

This is when an assumption is an asset.

These types of assumptions are valuable in that they allow us to predict a future without evaluation of information. We just assume we know, and generally everything works out all right.

Or does it?

Physical universe assumptions, subject to inspection and observation in scientific manner are not the same as interaction and interpersonal relationships between human beings. This fact is particularly true in the profession of selling. You discover very quickly that people can and do act and react in very unpredictable ways.

To assume that they will act or react in a certain way because they have done so in the past will often leave you unsatisfied or worse.

This is when assumptions become a liability.

The 40th President of the United States, President Ronald Reagan knew this and adopted a method of dealing with U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, when he frequently would simply say,Trust, but verify.”

It is sound advice to avoid relying on assumptions or preconceived notions too heavily. We can assume that information is reliable, but should do more research to verify that the information is in fact accurate or trustworthy.

This old adage that supports this concept: Don’t trust anything you hear, and half of what you read, and most of what you see.

I tend to agree.

Bad experience (born of poor judgment) has taught me to be more skeptical than was my normal inclination. Additionally, I’ve learned that I must not trust everything I think, unless I can verify it. My article on the subject, “Had Too Much To Think?” discusses this idea more completely.

In my opinion, the safest route is to look for basic laws, fundamental principles of human interaction, that apply to all people, as the search for perfection in human nature is a fool’s quest.

Here is an assumption, and observation, which is also a natural law of selling:

In selling, you’re always dealing with people.

And another self-evident truth you take to the bank:

Understand people and you’ll understand selling.

How valuable are these assumptions? Do they allow you to predict better with or without them? Do they simplify your life or add further complexity?

Only you can answer these questions for yourself.

But, as we learn from Ockham’s razor, selecting the hypotheses that makes the fewest assumptions is generally the fastest way to the truth, and then, only if you verify the assumption for yourself.

If you can see that it helps you understand the selling process better and aligns your methods with basic principles of selling, then it becomes a workable truth for you.

And that is all we’re going for: a workable truth. If it works for you, then it is true, at least until proved otherwise.

When something that you’ve assumed true proves unworkable, you would be well served to challenge it as a false assumption.

This quote by renowned composer Igor Stravinsky is interesting and relevant:

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.” – Igor Stravinsky

Once tuned in to false assumptions, you’ll see them in abundance in every day speech, thrown around like so much confetti. You should resolve to train yourself to catch these false assumptions before it’s too late.


Because operating on false assumptions, failing to read the fine print or clarify sticky points in negotiations or investments can turn a good deal into a huge liability.

In this way, assumptions can be hazardous to your wealth.

Here is another tip regarding assumptions, specifically intended for salespeople:

Miscommunications can always be traced back to differing assumptions.

If it is beginning to dawn on you that differing assumptions just could be the source of many thorny misunderstandings, in sales, your work, or family life, you are right.

Assumptions are a good starting point for investigation and analysis for any difficult situation. They should be examined regularly and tossed aside if found to have outlived their usefulness.

When things are not working as you’ve planned, when nothing seems to work out as intended, seek out any old assumptions or fixed solutions that may be clouding your thoughts and actions. And be ready for a few surprises, as you’ll often find a few false or outdated assumptions creeping into your thinking and thwarting your forward motion.

For some reason, assumptions (including false assumptions) tend to flourish and grow in the sales profession, to the misfortune of many. In fact, there are likely as many assumptions, opinions, rigid ideas and bad habits as there are people working in the profession.

Fortunately though, the principles of selling, thosesuch as truthfulness, trust, fairness, honesty, integrity, honor, and reliability are few, and far more valuable. And focusing on these fundamentals will diminish or minimize any negative influence of false assumptions.

These two steps will help you stay on top of your game:

1. Challenge your assumptions constantly and drop any old false assumptions getting in your way.

2. Reorient your actions to the basic, time-honored principles underlying all selling actions.

And keep a weather eye (shrewd watchfulness and alertness) for those pesky unexamined false assumptions.

You might find some surprisingly welcome changes in your sales success.

And that is worth working for, isn’t it?


One Response to “Assumptions Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth”

  1. this article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is a very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article. regards.

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