ChaptertOO Talent and Business Consulting
Assumptions Impact Retention…

of relationships and business.

Why? Because assumptions can ruin relationships, reveal biases, and be perceived as a lack of care or consideration by the party on the receiving end of them. 

Cambridge Dictionary defines assume as “to accept something to be true without proof or question”. When we assume, we actively erase the reality and experiences of others and may miss opportunities for corrective action.

Take the following real examples into consideration. For context, the ‘assumers’ initiated these conversations with…

  1.  You must be thriving, you look good.” – said to a 23-year-old who had received a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer weeks earlier and was undergoing chemotherapy.
  2. I’m so glad to SEE and KNOW that you’re doing so well.” – said to an entrepreneur battling crippling depression, other serious health issues, grieving the back-to-back deaths of loved ones, and struggling to build their business after the entrepreneur made a post about a panel (btw, unpaid) they were speaking on.
  3. XYZ client absolutely loves us, we gel well.” –  said about a client that would later resign the business due to what they viewed as a lack of attention, care, and curiosity about their brand.


What pattern, if any, did you notice with the assertions of the assumers? We’ll get things started — we noticed that the perceived notion of what “thriving”, “looking good “, “doing so well”, and “gelling well” meant to the respective assumer was projected onto the receiving party without the invitation of confirmation. We also noticed that guessing (“the supposition that something is true without sufficient information” – Oxford Dictionary) and bias, including cognitive bias, “a flaw in reasoning that leads you to misinterpret information from the world around you and to come to an inaccurate conclusion”, were likely at play.

What impact does assumption have on business and relationships?

  1.  Assumptions lead to complacency according to Gallup, 1 TRILLION – what U.S businesses are estimated to lose every year due to employees leaving voluntarily.  What’s worse? “52% of employees say that their manager or organization could have prevented their exit.  51% of these employees say that in the three months before they left, neither their manager nor any other leader spoke with them about their job satisfaction or future with the organization”. Perhaps these managers and leaders, “assumed” that these employees were content.
  2. Assumptions may contribute to lost productivity – When businesses wrongly assume that their employees feel valued, compensated adequately, respected, and are aligned with organizational values, the result is disengaged employees.  According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, “disengaged employees cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity annually, 11% of global GDP”.
  3. Assumptions cause relational tension – When we fail to seek confirmation about the experiences, views, desires, and needs of another (including customers and clients), they may begin to feel trapped under the weight of assumptions,  may reduce engagement with us, or may choose to walk away all together.


What can businesses and people begin to do to address this issue? The first step is accepting the fact that because our brains seek order, confirmation bias occurs. Leaning into the awareness of the brain’s wiring for order, develop a plan to skip the assumption and instead…

  1. A – ask the person or business to confirm what is true and WAIT for the answer.
  2.  S – seek clarification and check-in — true today may not mean true next week. 
  3.  K – kindness, lead with it because we never know what someone is facing.


Lastly, what is not acknowledged, cannot progress so if you’re not interested in knowing how that business is doing, how someone truly is, or may be uncomfortable if the response doesn’t match your comfort needs, don’t ask.  Disingenuity is detectable and that business or person may remember that moment if you reach out for something in the future. Curious about your biases? Harvard created a free implicit bias test assessment here.   


One of the most dishonorable things we can do to another person is to refuse to ask them to confirm their current reality and/or lived experiences.

Looking for a partner to help you optimize your business and employee retention strategies? Contact us here.