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Inferences, Assumptions, and Presumptions
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”
—H. M. Stanley, 1871
There is often confusion about the definitions for inferences, assumptions, and presumptions. any of these are part
an email, each can
create confusion enough to change the desired purpose of a communication. As
stated previously in this book, any message written in haste can fail in its
intent or even worsen a situation one is trying to correct.
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.
Over-assuming is usually a guess based on unverified information; when inferences, assumptions, or presumptions are made, obvious risks are involved. Because of the inherent possibilities that email, by its structure, can evoke, even more misunderstandings are likely to occur. Faulty assumptions can be trivial or significant, but many can be avoided with principles and practices. As the tools and technologies available become more sophisticated, their impact creates more assumptions[ . This is evidenced by rationalizations that lower standards, which tolerate mistakes and due diligence, are all acceptable. The long-term trend of all of these factors—email structure, increasingly sophisticated technology, and lowering standards— increase the complacency about email senders being sub-par in communication skills.
Perception—an experience from the senses or, at times, intuition. Not yet taken for granted.
Thoroughness, clarity, and objectivity will greatly eliminate the gray areas that inference, assumption, and presumption can create. All people make multiple inferences and assumptions every day, including what and how recipients of email will conclude and the degrees of the receivers’ reactions in reading the correspondence. To be skillful in effective email writing, it is necessary to not only employ Ne, but also to have a basic idea of those habits that can undermine one’s accuracy and effectiveness in communication.
Examples of inference and assumption
The following list summarizes some common inferences and assumptions.
1. A correspondence has been read or opened.
2. Intended emotions have been understood.
3. Specific urgency has been properly addressed.
4. Privacy will be maintained.
5. Any requests or demands will be honored.
6. The recipient wishes to receive correspondence.
7. An intended goal is accomplished.
8. Recipients will have universal reactions.
9. Schedules for meetings, calls or participatory events are open.
11. The addressees will ask for clarification if emails are unclear to them.
12. If replies are not either immediate, short-cycle , or not replied at all, the addressee is categorically rejecting the sender.
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