Never assume anything.

Monday’s going to be another fulfilling beginning to the week… So I thought, again.

The weekend was a breeze, mails flying back and forth like NASA crafts. I was expected to arrange a photo shoot and everything was already in place; the cover personality had agreed to show up on Monday by 9am, the photographer had been informed, and my bosses had been given the heads-up as any new developments over the weekend had been sent by e-mail. Good thing they were always online… or so I thought.

I even sang as I got out of bed that Monday morning, and updated my BBM status with the lyrics – something I’d term cheesy on any other day but this was going to be a great Monday so I didn’t care. When the rain started, I should have worried a bit, I didn’t. I didn’t realise that Chaos was planning on paying me a visit and maybe that was angels weeping on my behalf already. All I saw was rain that didn’t want to let up – still, I didn’t care.

Immediately I hit the road, I knew Babel was at work. There was mad traffic. “This is not good,” I thought out loud. I had two choices: jump on a bike and avoid traffic, which wasn’t really a choice because the downpour simply negated that, or get into a vehicle. Option two; I got into my sister’s car and prepared for the most annoying crawl of the week. The long line of cars with one’s bumper kissing another’s fender would create an artist’s impression of a multicoloured metal millipede on tarmac when viewed aerially.

While we were inching along – 20 yards per every 20 minutes, my boss’ personal assistant called to tell me ‘madam’ wasn’t aware of any photo shoot for the day. I was surprised and indignant. “But we still spoke about this on Friday evening. I’ve sent lots of mails…” I kept mouthing off various reasons as to why I wasn’t wrong…

Everything went down hill from then on. I arrived late at the office, had to scramble to get the photographer set up at the location, and I had to begin apologising even though I didn’t really mean it at the time – there was no time to think, no time to care either. The photo shoot began four hours after it was scheduled to begin and after an hour, luck finally ran out. Two perfectly good cameras stopped connecting with the lenses available and the entire shoot had to be postponed.

When I calmed down, I realised I was truly wrong. I committed just one error and a schoolboy error at that; I assumed. I assumed my bosses would get the mails since they always got them. I assumed my bosses were okay with the plan since they didn’t reply (Silence means consent, right?). I assumed my boss was going to be online that weekend since she always was. Turned out she didn’t use the internet that weekend. To cap it all, I was given my first query ever; for poor communication, lack of organisation, etc.

And something I’ve always known was brought back to mind: communication can be said to be effective/complete when the message = intended meaning = expected response. That’s where I goofed. I didn’t get a response but chose to believe all was well based on the assumption that the recipients of the information would have got the message since they were always online. They got the message, right; but they didn’t see it. Thus, my assumption was wrong.


I made just one mistake which would have been solved with just one/two courses of action: make a phone call or see the person face to face.

And here’s the obvious lesson, don’t assume. What you think should be isn’t necessarily what is. We’re human, wired to sometimes (unsciously) add up random pieces of information and reach a conclusion. We theorise based on these conclusion and tend to base further actions on them. On some freak occasions, our assumptions could be wrong and prove fatal.

In this era of instant messaging, we sometimes forget the need for face-to-face communication. One shouldn’t totally replace the other; they should be complementary. Some would say that since they now use BlackBerry phones, there’s no need for calls and regular physical interactions. Then, they base their actions on this assumption, only for it to blow up in their faces.Until that reply has been received; until that contract has been signed; until that yes – or no has been said, never presume it will be. Nothing is until it is, at least when humans are involved. Explore all options/channels first and rest in the realisation that you’ve done all that is humanly (and technologically) possible, most especially when communicating. Peace.

Images from http://www.dameswoodish.com, http://www.strategydriven.com

  • 10 points on the ASUU wahala: It is all about the data and communications

    Brlliant essay on the ASUU/educational debacle in Nigeria. Real simple, logical, and achievable solutions proffered here by Ikhide, a Nigeran educator, writer and literary critic abroad.
    Please read and share your comments. Thank you

    Pa Ikhide

    Nigeria is on my mind. Specifically, I am thinking of the crippling strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that is almost six months now. It is common knowledge that the situation in the campuses is grim (see a grisly report by ThisDay here, sobering pictures from a “NEEDS assessment” here, and these particularly upsetting photos on Linda Ikeji’s blog, of university facilities in utter disrepair). I have weighed in on numerous times, since 2009 (read my last rant here). The situation is dire and both ASUU and the federal government are fiddling. Meanwhile Nigerian students are at home. Well, not all of them. Private universities are still in session.

    ASUU was created for good reason and at a time when Nigeria had very few universities, all of them government funded. Today, there are more than ten times that many universities, several of them…

    View original post 1,998 more words