I’m reading The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.  The Four Agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

I’m struck by the implications for mediators of the Third Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions .    Ruiz writes, “If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

I wonder if making assumptions is what sometimes makes asking questions so hard.  When it’s hard to ask a question is it hard because we assume that the question will be hard to answer?  Or, are we already making assumptions because we think we know the answer and are already in judgment about it?  Or, is it something else?

Sometimes, in the Support and Development classes we run, a participant will come in with a challenging mediation that she’s working in.  Sometimes, the challenge is that the mediator doesn’t know what is going on for one or both of the parties.  The mediator wonders could it be this?  Is it that?  It must be something really difficult because the mediator is so uncomfortable not knowing what to do.

If we apply Ruiz’s third agreement – don’t make assumptions – it makes asking so much easier.