Friday, March 1, 2013

Inferences, Assumptions, and Presumptions in email

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”
H. M. Stanley, 1871

Some of the most common causes of negative results derived from both creating/sending or reacting to emails are from inferring, assuming or presuming.  Many of the blogs presented within the pages of previous blogs have mentioned how misunderstandings occur. To reduce or hopefully eliminate a large part of these, it is necessary to have a fundamental understanding of inferences, assumptions or presumptions and how they can contributed to "bad" emails. Let's begin with the definitions of these three words.
Here are some basic definitions:
        Inference—something we take for granted often because of a related observation or experience or something that is factually known; that is, an educated guess.
        Assumption is an accepted thing thought to be true but without proof—something taken for granted, an axiom or starting point in an argument or theory, a natural deduction. “You have to start somewhere.”
        Presumption Omnia praesumtur rite esse acta: Latin proverb that means “all things are presumed to be done in due form.” Taken to be the case, based upon reasonable evidence. An idea that has always been believed to be right, taken for granted, not likely to be wrong. Best possible guess or conclusion.
Any composer of an email should be careful not to use any of these means in conveying a message. For example, an Inference of a "truth" to one person may indeed be not at all the same to someone else. The same can be said for assumptions or presumptions. While any of these have significant value or validity, none represent an absolute fact universally shared.
It is good Netiquette to be mindful of these potential pitfalls and refrain from sending any message which may have these attributes.
Any comments would be appreciated.