As I write this Boost, I assume I like you, the reader. I assume I need you; I assume you need me. And what’s more, I assume I’m right. This is what gives me the confidence to keep on writing.

Assumptions at their best are great for connecting, learning and sharing, but at their worst they lead to biased, unfair, limiting and dangerous fantasies. If your imagination has been distorting information to scare you away from people, there’s a good chance that your imagination is tricking you into making negative assumptions about people based on past experience.

In this case, your imagination is running the show and the score is Imagination one, You zero.

Get your imagination under control. See it for the fun vehicle it is and use it to install some Really Useful Assumptions. Here are a few to get you going.

  • Assume rapport and trust between yourself and other people.
  • Assume/trust that you will like them and that they will like you.
  • Assume that what you’re doing with other people will work.
  • Assume that others will give you the benefit of the doubt, and you will do the same for them.
  • Assume that what you’re reading here will work for you because it’s worked for thousands of other people.
  • Assume that you are making a difference in the lives of the individuals you meet.
  • Assume that a connected community is a place where we encourage, uplift and promote each other.

When you spot someone you fancy, don’t start making assumptions about how he or she will feel if you approach. You have no idea whether they’ll be embarrassed, offended, or thrilled to bits, so just approach and see what reaction you get. You have nothing to lose.

The worst you can expect is a little dent in your ego.

Most people are eager to connect and to be friends with us, so assume the best.

That said, it’s also wise to remember that we’re all more open and receptive to talking to strangers at some times than at others. Sometimes we just feel like keeping to ourselves— maybe we’ve had a hard day, or have something important on our minds, or any of a million other reasons we may just want to be left alone.

When we’re in this state of mind, often we emit signals—a preoccupied or troubled expression, for example, or other closed body language. It’s smart to be on the lookout for such signals (and for their opposite, for receptivity) before you approach. If you approach and sense any stiffening or annoyance, or the person simply ignores you, that’s okay. Just smile, excuse yourself, and go about your business.

You’ve been friendly. Leave it at that.