Because all of the decisions we make are emotional (while we rationalize and justify those decisions analytically), our perceptions of others are based on intangibles that we use to make meaning in our world. These intangibles include our assumptions and beliefs, values, vision of the future and guiding principles.
Recent studies have revealed that everyone everywhere has hidden biases and unquestioned (but often inaccurate) assumptions and beliefs. Yet, our biases, perceptions, assumptions and beliefs can inadvertently sabotage our relationships and hinder our career aspirations.
Acknowledging that we unconsciously and routinely make implicit assumptions based on unrealistic beliefs is critical to becoming aware of why we do what we do. The challenge is to be able to suspend those self-limiting beliefs and assumptions that block us from achieving our goals.
A belief system, including stereotyping, provides a core set of values on which we base everything we say or do. We can classify our values as a "set of rules" that define how we process and assemble information, and we are responsible for our words, actions, and deeds, all of which reflect our belief system. If they insult or alienate friends or business associates, they will backfire on us. Nothing will shut down communication faster than if we react with disapproval.
It is our responsibility to abandon prejudices, allow our perceptions to evolve and maintain open lines of communication.
Our assumptions and beliefs are continuously reinforced or modified through our experiences. In turn, they forge the values we use to build the foundations of our work and personal lives. Being mindful of our assumptions allows us to make more effective choices, particularly under trying circumstances.