There is great danger in jumping to conclusions before you have the facts. A great deal of trouble arises in life because we allow our thinking to control us. We jump to assumptions; rather than controlling our thinking. On many occasions, we fail to recognise that we do not have enough information to actually come to an accurate conclusion.

That may sound like a bit much but allow me to give you an example from my own experience.

The background

I had been out of work for a period of time with illness. In the end, surgery was required to resolve the problem. For every moment of my absence I had given sufficient notice to my supervisor and I had provided the necessary documents and certification to cover the absence, as required by law.

You can only imagine my shock when upon my return to work, I was provided with a letter calling me to a disciplinary meeting which was being held to investigate my level of absence. I wasn't worried about getting in trouble because I had been in enough trouble in my life to just learn to deal with it. However, I was very angry with the situation because I felt there was a lack of justice and fair treatment. I had provided advanced notice of my absence and provided the documentation and certification to explain it. Why was I summoned to a disciplinary meeting? 

Making matters worse

I told a number of my colleagues about the impending meeting and even allowed a few of my most trusted colleagues to read the actual letter. Of course this then led to a full-on complaining session where to be quite frank; there is little that remained unsaid about the company and the people in management.

Preparing for conflict

In accordance with the disciplinary procedure of the company I was allowed to take a witness with me to the meeting. Now, expecting the worst; I made sure that I selected a witness whom I could trust to give an honest and accurate account of everything that was discussed within the meeting. A witness who would be prepared to back me up and not bow to pressure from management within the company.

Prior to the meeting I took time with my witness to discuss our tactics. There were a number of instances where we said if they say this then I will respond with that. In doing this we attempted to cover every potential issue which could arise.

The meeting

When the time for the meeting arived we made our way to the meeting room where there were two members of management, my witness and myself. To be quite honest I was worried about my ability to hold my temper, such was my feeling of a lack of justice. Thankfully, I managed to bite my tongue and wait to see what would be said.

To my surprise when the meeting began it was made clear to me that the meeting was just part of the process which everybody with high levels of absenteeism had to go through. The two members of management went through each of my absences, one by one, and before I could provide the documentation and the emails to back up my absence, they actually produced all the evidence themselves. Clearly they understood that my absence was genuine and they were just going through the process and allowing me the opportunity to add any additional information I may wish to add.

The lesson

It was lucky that I had managed to contain my anger because my anger was completely unnecessary. I, along with my colleagues, had jumped to a major conclusion that the purpose of the meeting was solely to punish me for something I was perceived to have done wrong. In reality, the meeting was just management making sure they had all the facts to make the necessary decision which was that my absence had been justified. I should have taken the same approach and seen the meeting as an opportunity to gather the facts that I needed to understand the actual purpose of the meeting.

In the end, a meeting which I had feared turned into a hostile situation; turned into a polite and cordial discussion which ensured all the necessary information was gathered and established greater trust between myself, my witness and management.

Now think for a moment how the situation would have gone if I'd allowed my anger to take control of me and I went into that meeting with all guns blazing. I would have been the one who would have provided the basis for myself to be punished because I would have said or done something which would have been completely inappropriate. And all because I had jumped the gun and jumped to conclusions without having the necessary evidence to back them up.

Conclusion

So when you find yourself in a potentially difficult situation where you don't have the facts you need; make your first job to gather more facts. And if you can't get the factsyou need; have patience and trust that the situation will open itself up and reveal its nature to you. I believe that in most instances you will find that your worries, fear or anger are completely unnecessary, and all will work out for the best. Even where things don't go your way, you won't have wasted energy worrying and stressing about things when you couldn't actually do anything about it.

Always be prepared to speak up but remember that there are certain situations where it is better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing.

How to Talk So Others Will Listen

Develop excellent communication skills so that you can express your opinion in a positive manner. Stand up for yourself without upsetting others.


To learn excellent communication strategies, check out
'How to Talk So Others Will Listen'.


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