Avoid Making Assumptions

One of my favorite treats is a massage. Since I have been doing a lot of travel, I called Massage Envy to schedule a deep tissue session. They recommended a therapist named Antonia.

After I arrived, I sat down on a comfy chair and picked up a magazine. When my name was called, I looked up to see a young woman who could not have weighed more than 90 pounds soaking wet. I thought to myself, “How is this little gal going to have the strength to do an hour and a half deep tissue massage?” I assumed because of her size that she was not going to be able to give me the massage I had hoped to get.

Boy, was I mistaken! Antonia was a beast in the massage room. She worked out all the kinks in my back and neck with tremendous power and strength. I misjudged her completely at first sight but was pleasantly surprised that I found a fantastic therapist I will go back to again and again.

How does this relate to project interviews? Presenters often make assumptions about the interview panel. As soon as they enter the interview, team members begin making assumptions about whether panel members are receptive to them and what they have to present. Will I be speaking to friend or foe? During the interview, presenters often try to read the panel and in so doing, make assumptions about what the panelists are thinking. At the end of the interview, assumptions are made about whether their presentation was well received.

Sometimes our assumptions are on target. However when tension is high we become more sensitive, more self-conscious and can misread what is happening. For example, if a panel member is not making eye contact and appears to be taking a lot of notes, that is not necessarily a bad thing. They may be so engrossed in what you have to say they want to diligently record what you have to say. Or a panel member may have a sour look on his or her face that has nothing to do with you. Lunch may have given them indigestion.

The moral of this story is to be wary of making assumptions because you may unnecessarily alter your demeanor or content based on an incorrect assumption. So if you are going to assume anything, assume the best. If you have done your homework, diligently rehearsed, and presented your message with confidence, warmth and enthusiasm you are likely on track.

For more valuable tips like these, order your copy of “Selection Success!”

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