Jumping to Conclusions

The recent presidential election in the USA, and the Brexit vote in Britain, both offer clear examples of a type of mistaken thinking or “mis-blink” that people can easily fall into during times of change.

When we assume, based on minimal evidence, that we know how events are going to turn out. Or when we jump to conclusions (again with minimal factual evidence) about whether a person is acting favourably or unfavourably towards us, we are making the mistaken blink-of-an-eye assumption called “jumping to conclusions”.

For example, we might assume or jump to the conclusion that the other side in an election intentionally wants to hurt us. So we get angry, which increases the pressure they feel, and changes the way they respond towards us. Or we might assume or jump to the conclusion that since our side is bound to win there is no need for us to vote. Or in a business negotiation we might assume or jump to the conclusion that the other party has a certain attitude towards us or that the outcome has already been decided.

In any of these cases what is important about this mis-blink is not whether or not our assumption turns out to be correct. What matters more is that by jumping to conclusions, based on minimal evidence, we are restricting the range of options that we consider for taking action. This reduces the likelihood that we will get the outcomes we want.

What we need to do instead is to check whether we might be making this or one of the seven other common types of mis-blink. Then pause and consider whether other interpretations are also possible. Then choose the action(s) we will take and the resources we will assign, based on a balanced understanding of the probabilities, not just our assumptions or the conclusions we have jumped to.

The action we then take and the outcome that follows might still be the same as we originally thought. But when everything is changing we cannot really be sure how anything will turn out.

What we can do is take steps to become clearer on what we want and take our best, considered actions towards achieving that.

Taking a moment to spot our own mis-blinks is a key step to achieving that.