I once had a superhero I had created called El Coyote. His arch-nemesis was a wizard who turned people into donkeys. His name was The Assumption because he made asses out of you and me. I always found that phrase funny but it really is true. Assuming things can be one of our greatest weaknesses.
Something I always try to get across with any team I work with is not to assume anything. If there is a decision to be made and you don’t have all of the facts it can be very dangerous and costly to assume you know the right answer. When working with a team I always stress that if they have a question they should stop what they are doing and ask someone what they need to know. It will save you time, money, and face to know the right answer even if your assumption was correct.
Why will it save you time, money and face even if your assumption was correct? Asking someone a question to clarify your assumption creates an even better habit for you which is communication. The reason people assume so much isn’t because they know everything. It is because people dislike communicating, at least not communicating in an effective and professional manner. People don’t like to appear ignorant and asking questions creates a perception that they are. However this is an incorrect assumption. Most people would rather you ask questions for clarification than do something incorrectly in your job. You will look more ignorant by doing it wrong and explaining that you assumed something than getting it right the first time by asking questions.
Asking for clarification is usually a better sign of doing a proper job. It indicates you have read or listened to the information given to you for a given task. It shows a willingness and want on your part to do your job correctly. It helps build communication skills between you and your colleagues and/or clients. These are all good things. Granted asking the same question multiple times or about things that are blatantly in the documentation given or was just recently explained verbally can be viewed badly. It is important to listen and read things that are given to you before asking questions.
The next time you assume you have all of the information or know what the client or colleague is thinking take a moment to stop and evaluate the situation. Ask yourself if the person ever answered the question directly that you are assuming to know the answer to whether in writing or verbally. If there is even a sliver of doubt take the time to clarify.