All of us have assumptions. About everything. Sometimes they help us, and get us to good decisions faster. Other times they hurt us, because they turn out to be wrong, and we start out on the wrong foot.
In new environments where you don’t have a good grasp of the history of the situation (a new job, for example), check your assumptions. How do you do this? Turn them into questions. And use the word assume, even if some wise-cracks with the old ass-of-u-and-me joke.
“I assumed that the situation is X because of this and this and this. Is this accurate? If not, why not?”
Questions like these, asked with respect and transparency will generate conversations about the history of the environment, which are crucial. Questions about the ‘Why’ of a design can shed light that ‘What’ and ‘How’ won’t.