Never Assume

I was reading an article the other day in which the author expressed her annoyance of people assuming the most basic of things. In her case it revolved around the simple question "tea or coffee?' It wasn't the fact that she had been offered a hot drink it was the assumption that she would consume one or the other, tea or coffee, as if there could not possibly be any other choice. On a TV breakfast program (in a similar vein) here in the UK the other day, when talking about football (soccer to our American friends) one presenter asked another "which team do you support?" to which the reply was "Spurs". My instant thought was that the initial question should be "do you follow football" if the answer was yes then ask what team he supported. My next thought was that has this person answered with "Spurs" because it is the truth, or because it is easier to just go along with the assumption.

In my youth at school the expected thing for a lad of my age was to support a football team in the winter and a cricket team in the summer, I didn't do either. The truth is none of my family including my parents and grand parents followed any sport so I was not anything out of the ordinary but at school it could be very difficult indeed.  I did try pretending to follow a club, but I was soon caught out when I had no idea what any of the players names were or the score from the last match! This then caused much hilarity amongst the 'assumers'. And so it is with crossdressing, the uninformed (civilians as one well known blogger calls them)  assume if you crossdress then you must be gay, attracted to men and want to transition, that, in my case at least, is about as far from the truth as you could get.  The trouble is you find yourself almost apologising for the fact that you don't like football, tea and coffee, want to transition or anything else that someone has assumed about you. But we should not be the ones who are apologising, it is the person that assumes who should apologise.

So why do we assume, and lets be fair we all do it at sometime or the other, well I think it's all down to conditioning and what is accepted as the norm. We assume because we automatically consider everyone else to follow the accepted way of life that everybody else does, in that case it is fair to say that most people do drink tea or coffee, or support a football team. The rules, or 'norm' is drawn from many years of adhering to the legal rules and abiding by the will of a large majority of the populace. However in this much more enlightened time, certainly here in the UK, the legal rules from the past have in many cases changed, adapted to meet current needs or been abolished. But in many cases the assumptions have not.

This post is not about tea or coffee, wether you follow football or if you are gay or even the risk of upsetting someone. it's about making unintentional assumptions. It's only when you think about these things that it comes home to you that we find it all to easy to assume, so perhaps a little more thought about how you phrase a question and your reaction to the answer is what is called for. I'm not suggesting for one moment that we stop offering tea or coffee, what I am suggesting is that when we don't get the answer we were expecting, then we should gracefully accept that to somebody else 'norm' may not be the same as ours. 

Comments

  1. A workmate explained to me why he asked a lot of curious questions. Particularly, when you say X, what is that X?

    It might sound a bit odd when put line that, but you can monkey around with the language - at least provided you don't colour the question with your own views or biases.

    I think keeping an eye - or ear - to what's being be said (and not) might be a chance to learn something new.

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