Assumptions: Negotiation Mistakes That Haven’t Been Made Yet


Everyone pretty much knows the old saying about assumptions making a you know what out of both you and your counterpart. While personally I am not much of a fan of this old cliché, I have to admit I do agree somewhat with the logic behind it. The real problem with assumptions is that they lead to some sort of movement or action that ends up having a very negative affect on a given situation.


What we at Black Swan would like to implore you to do, if you don’t already, is explore every assumption you may have in your mind. Similar to there is no such thing as a stupid question (with the idea being to encourage people to ask questions), there is a such thing as proceeding on poor assumption. My girlfriend says I do this all the time, which means maybe I should take my own advice.

As we all know proceeding on a bad assumption can get us into a lot of hot water (especially myself). In an effort to change the façade around assumptions, here at Black Swan we have replaced this idea with hypothesis, for those science gurus out there. Assumptions are not a bad thing and even in some cases lead to positive outcomes, but that’s probably more luck than anything. The reason we use hypothesis is because it requires further gathering of information before it is even considered as fact/theory. The technical definition of hypothesis is: a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. The first part of this definition could be for assumptions, we would just be missing the further investigation part. This is why hypothesis is such a good substitute for assumptions, both should require the gathering of further information before it can become a basis for moving forward.

We would like you to consider – no longer proceed on assumption but rather proceed on hypothesis. 

 Read more articles from Brandon and learn about the Effectively Influencing Others Course for teams. 


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About The Author

Brandon Voss is the Director of Operations and an Instructor/Consultant with The Black Swan Group. Brandon has been instrumental in adapting the FBI’s hostage negotiation techniques to the business world. In addition to training clients, Brandon has guest lectured at USC Marshall School of Business and Georgetown McDonough School of Business.