Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

 This is the third agreement, from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, Four Agreements. If we are able to follow this, it will profoundly change our life.

Recently I  travelled from Ahmadabad to Pune, by air. While doing web check in, the Airline informed, that for travelling to Pune you will require  a negative RTPCR report done 72 hrs prior to departure or a certificate for vaccination, with the condition that, minimum 15 days, should  have elapsed between the second dose of vaccination and date of travel. As I was fully vaccinated, I went ahead and travelled. After some time, my son was to travel to Bangalore from Pune. I booked a ticket for him. Before the travel date, he did the mandatory web check in. He was all ready to go, as he was joining his new job at Bangalore and was really excited. On the day of travel, we offered our best wishes and he went to the airport. At the baggage drop counter, he was asked about the negative RTPCR report for Covid, before boarding the plane. He was fully vaccinated, so he showed the vaccine certificate, but the airline staff told him, that Bangalore requires the negative report irrespective of vaccination. He has to reschedule the flight, by paying extra money and also take a RTPCR test. This all happened, because we assumed that full vaccination certificate is sufficient, for travel in India. Though, Airline has asked us, to check up the guidelines for Karnataka state on Covid, before web check in,  we did not see those, assuming that, they will be same, as we have encountered in travel from Ahmadabad to Pune.

Our assumption proved totally wrong. It cost us more money, my son lost a day and it really felt bad, as to how come we missed this. Then I realized how apt is the advice – Don’t assume anything. If we had followed this, we could have saved, my son a day and the money required for rescheduling the flight.

This was a clear example of how assumptions could prove us wrong. But this is more pertinent in human relations. Where we assume so many things           without even being aware of those assumptions. Is it not? Let us say, that you are supposed to furnish a report, on the project you are working, to your boss. You submit the report, before the agreed deadline and you do not hear anything from the boss, for next couple of days. How do you feel? You assume that as the boss has not said anything, your report is not up to his expectations. You are doomed now. You are going to get firing, from your boss and so on and so forth. Here unconsciously, you assume so many things, which may or may not be true. And these assumptions, lead you to judging yourself critically or your boss critically. And this starts, impacting your relationship with your boss.

Take another situation. You call your best friend, as you have to share something important with him and he does not respond. He does not call you back for couple of days. What do you think? You start assuming, that he does not care about you. He is selfish. He does not return your call, when you needed him. All these are assumptions- again these may be true or may not be true. But many a times we think they are true without bothering to check their veracity. And as I explained this is far truer in case of relationships, in human interactions. Our assumptions are based on our thinking, our conditioning, our expectations, social norms. If we could just step back and test these assumptions. Ask questions, as Don Miguel Ruiz suggests, we will avoid the unnecessary suffering, that we go through in life. Think about it. How many times we fall prey, to this habit of assuming things and suffer.

This is dramatically explained by Father Anthony De Mello in his book The Heart of the Enlightened through a humorous story. The story is as follows.

The Village drunkard staggered up to the parish priest, newspaper in hand, and greeted him politely. The priest, annoyed, ignored the greeting because the man was slightly inebriated.

He had come with a purpose, however. “Excuse me, Father,” he said, “could you tell me what causes arthritis?” The priest ignored that too.

But when the man repeated the question, the priest turned on him impatiently and cried,” Drinking causes arthritis, that’s what! Gambling causes arthritis! Chasing loose women causes arthritis…” And only then, too late he said “Why did you ask?”

“Because it says right here in the papers that that’s what the pope has!”