Why you should never assume anything

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from "Under Siege 2," a rather obscure 1995 action thriller starring Steven Seagal.

During an exchange between the two main villains, one assures the other that our hero (Seagal) disappeared and is presumably dead.

Then the other curtly asks, "Did you see the body?" before delivering a powerful line I've never forgotten since watching the movie as a kid: "Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups."

We've all been there. We (or someone we know) make a choice without doing our due diligence -- perhaps out of sheer laziness or carelessness -- and later say, "I just assumed so and so." Later, we feel a sense of regret and wish we had done our research.

For example, my wife often assumes that just because she sees a product being advertised on the website of a given retailer -- say, Macy's -- they're bound to have that very item available at our local store.

Such a faulty assumption resulted in our going to stores on multiple occasions and leaving empty handed. Now, if she wants me to accompany her to the store to buy something she's not entirely sure they have in stock, she has to call first.

Don't assume -- find out before you take action (assuming it isn't a matter of life and death that demands an immediate response).

If you're having persistent health symptoms, don't just assume it isn't a big deal. Make an appointment and see your doctor.

If you're job hunting, don't let a great interview lead you to assume that you got the job. Keep pounding the pavement until you get a formal offer in writing.

And in the realm of relationships, you should never presume that a smile or friendly demeanor translates into someone liking you and wanting to take things to the next level. Go out with the person a few more times and see if you can better gauge their level of interest.

When we make knee-jerk decisions, we usually come to regret them. They say that when you assume, you "make an ass out of you and me." Humorous, yes, but certainly not an exaggeration. People should avoid making assumptions unless they have no other choice in the matter. Asking questions and doing research can lead to much better results.

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