No one ever says, "unstated expectations make an ass out of you and me", because it would be a false statement. I find it fascinating that the ones who tell us not to assume are the same ones who haven't stated their expectations - the whole quip is fail because it places responsibility upon the wrong party. The one who should never assume is the one who's not stated their expectation - not the other way around, yet that's exactly what gets it erroneously quoted at us. It really is a fantastic feint.
Stated (as opposed to unstated) expectation is an intimate part of the communication process - something which is mutually beneficial to both parties. But in its absence, cascading failure can occur due to assumption and its complex duality. While both expectation and assumption are presumed to be something we wish to see happen, only one of those incorporates an irrational belief its already a foregone conclusion - and that one is fueled by our old nemesis, entitlement. Yes, entitlement is what gives us unstated expectations, and we already know how damaging that can be. If we think of unstated expectation as an assumption, and "should" statements as the basis for unstated expectation, we're basically left with assumptions amounting to cognitive distortion, and that's enough of a litmus test for those of us who think to be aware of when we are making them.
But entitlement is only one side of the way assumption can cut us. Another is perception. Assuming the intent of someone else's actions or words is our judgment of them because its what we might do. Our assumptions reveal to others our upbringing, our nature, and our experiences in ways which are not easily hidden. When we assume - or even get offended - it can be telling of our own weaknesses, our own fears, our own broken worldview. And that is called projection, yet another type of cognitive bias.
But not all assumption is bad! Because our assumptions manifest through behavior, we can always assume the best, and that can be infectious. When used properly - applicable in longstanding relationships which have already mastered communication, for example - it can afford us more inherent latitude by allowing established assumptions to further shorten the understanding curve. And mutual understanding is at the heart of every successful relationship, even the one we have with ourselves.
* Originally posted to PyschoticToday.com