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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

'Assumption'... friend or foe?

Before I worked in television I made a lot of assumptions about those who did - I won't be honest about them all, you will probably all stop reading here and now. I will be honest though and say I made them. Which is quite rare for me - as I generally try and live my life making assumptions as little as possible.

Now don't get me wrong - I do not mean that I avoid obvious assumptions... 

Walking home at night if I have have two paths to take - one dark, intimidating and unknown, and the other better lit, with other folk in sight and safer 'looking' - I will assume my safety is more likely on the latter route...

If my other half pours a large drink at home before a night out, I generally assume he is on a session for the duration...

If my debit card gets declined in the shops, I will assume I have run out of money. This does happen to me sometimes (Must. Stop. Overspending)

I don't however assume things are a given just because they are on offer in the here and now, and I don't assume someone will be a certain way/shape/size simply based upon - well, assumption.

I have found myself the victim of assumption in my 'television life' a few times of late - and it made me realise that there are some key things we all must remember - and also heightened my awareness that we do, in TV (as I am sure in all areas of life/work), assume often.

1. Just because you are successful, excellent at your job and held in high regard, do not assume you will always be in work and will never have to face the 'fear' you often see others going through. 

I was really fortunate this year in that I have not had any gaps in employment - however it has been hairy at times. I realised that I just assumed that there would always be a work offer because there always had been - and actually as a result I have not had the sense to save for that inevitable rainy day. I am not impressed with myself. Please don't think I am arrogant nor that I assumed I would always be offered a job - just that I assumed something would always turn up and therefore never realistically considered how I would manage financially in life had it not. I am always very keen to give advice - and now I am giving some to myself (that I share with you) - no matter how fortunate you have been to date, do not assume that will always be the case (hope however it will be). Put a little away. I intend to, starting.... next month (I just blew a fair few pennies on a new dress so have to wait til the next pay day).

Seriously though - after a recent incident involving a broken leg and 2 weeks of unexpected unpaid leave, I realised the stupidity of having never 'put away'.

I met someone recently who told me he would never not work - 'they love me. I can literally sit on my arse and do fu*k all and get paid. I tell you, they love me' [the companies who hire him]. One day I will run one of those companies and all arrogant moos can assume they will be out the back door! Dick.

2. Never make an assumption about the personal values of another in the industry - especially if you have yet to be given the opportunity to get to know them. It is very easy to feel like you know someone simply because you have formed a relationship with them in a basic Twitter (or a.n.other social site) chat, or because you share an office space. I credit myself for not making this mistake very often - and 'assumed' most were the same - yet twice this week I have been insulted by flippant comments thrown at me by others who have simply made them on nothing but assumption. One about my personal nature and another about my methods of work practice. Both were wrong.

If you do not know someone incredibly well, either take the time to get to know the facts or reality, or say nothing. We might make television, create artistic masterpieces and claim top notch rating figures just 'like that'... we do not however have the power of knowing others as we do ourselves. By all means, observe, form opinion on actuality - but never assume.

3. DO assume that you should always be treated with respect in the workplace. I was saddened to meet a young man recently who - upon my asking why he allowed his colleagues to openly mock almost everything about him - told me that he had 'always assumed they would... I mean look at me'. I was outraged. When you take on a post in a company - whether you are in the highest or lowest role there appears to be, you should take it on with pride and safe in the knowledge that you were given it because you are capable and deserving. Even if you have your own confidence battles - you must assume that you will be given respect by your peers. If you are not - then don' assume - as my young man then told me - that, that is just as it is in TV... as far as I am concerned, I do not think it matters what the industry is, no member of staff deserves to be ridiculed and made to feel like hats just how it is.

4. Avoid assuming that change is bad. Working in Production it is my job to adapt to the practices of a new show, company or Line Manager. Sometimes however it is my job to show one of the above that perhaps their practices are the thing that need adapting. We have a preference for doing things in life - in both business and pleasure. We generally - even if not consciously aware of it - assume that the way we do something is the best way/ the most efficient way/ the only way... in work, ensure you listen to why someone else is doing something before you assume it isn't the way they should. Yes - it may turn out that your initial assumption was correct - but every once in a while you might just learn something. In assuming you give nothing else a chance - and without a chance, we do not learn.

Anyhow - that is basically all I wanted to say about that. BTW on the thread of assumption...

1. I do not have short hair. It is tied up in my picture.
2. I am not orange - I had a spray tan for a night out. I do not go to work like this. 
3. Apparently there is no such thing as a baby pigeon... assumed by lack of sighting. There is - I had three dumped on my balcony at uni. Do not assume things aren't true just because you cannot immediately see them.
4. I - like all of you I am sure - am not invincible. Be kind to each other.

It's interesting because people assume that because I'm famous, I know all famous people [Daniel Radcliffe]


  1. I saw a baby pigeon on the side of a pavement at Television Centre once. It was a very bizarre sight but I too can confirm they exist.