Jumping to Conclusions About People
Sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but jumping to a conclusion about people is never a good idea. Leaders who jump to conclusions about others make fast assumptions on limited information. This ultra-decisiveness generally leads to poor or wrong choices that play out negatively in interaction.
We all get to a conclusion about someone else too fast at times, but leaders who make a habit of supersonic judgments create unnecessary upset and conflict with others.
For example, when a leader jumps to the conclusion that a colleague believes they will fail at a task, the leader becomes defensive and guarded with them. Acting defensive when others have no idea why is more than just irritating and annoying; indeed, it commonly produces equal defensiveness from the other party. Before anyone realizes it, the faulty assumption made by the leader has created unnecessary tension and conflict in the relationship.
Whenever a leader thinks they know what others are feeling and thinking, or believes they have a bead on what will unfold in the future of a relationship, they are likely to jump to a conclusion. True mind-readers and fortunetellers are in short supply, so when a leader believes they have an inside edge, they are likely wrong.
Faulty presumptions lead the mind-reader to see issues and problems where they don’t exist. This often plays out negatively, leading to conflict, which harms the relationship.
Another pattern of jumping to conclusions occurs when leaders judge talent too quickly in the recruiting process. Those primed to make fast and unwarranted inferences about others will land squarely on a view of them with very little evidence.
Not surprisingly, jumpers are typically adamant about their snap judgments. Once they jump to a conclusion and become outspoken about a prospective candidate, their view pollutes the ability of others to make objective judgments, as well.
Slowing down those who make hasty or faulty judgments about others is not easy. Because they rarely examine the track record of their assumption-making, those who jump to conclusions about people often remain convinced that they possess a unique clairvoyance that serves them well. This makes them want to jump even faster, trusting their first impression or reading the early signals they deem so essential.
Perhaps the only way to curtail the cognitive distortion of jumping to conclusions is to encourage jumpers to ask more questions before making split-second judgments about who people are or what they believe or think.
Gathering more facts and not assumptions is a cardinal virtue. In the words of Greek philosopher Epictetus, “You become what you give your attention to.” When we think too quickly, we discover things that don’t exist.
I guess you could look at decisiveness as also jumping to conclusions. Maybes it’s two sides of the same coin?
We need to be aware if we have the tendency to jump to conclusions too quickly. If we can do that then we have a chance.
The biggest risk is with recruitment. If we start to see someone as the answer we can find ourselves overlooking or choosing to overlook flaws that will intimately mean this person is not suitable. I guess the opposite is true too.
Why ís decisiveness considered a strong leadership trait? Seems like the small majority of the time it’s a liability.