This topic came about after a member of a book group mentioned that he was careful to enter into dialogues without any assumptions. Of course, a few members chuckled, myself included. He immediately smiled and replied that, yes he realized that this statement placed him in somewhat of a conundrum, since his statement regarding assumptions was very much an assumption into itself.
I smiled for an altogether different reason. All in all, I found his statement somewhat odd, for I would never claim to enter into a discussion without assumptions. This isn't to say that I do my best to ferret out my underlying assumptions - I do. However, I've never felt comfortable assuming that I am going into a situation free of assumptions or preconceptions.
If anything, I always assume that I have assumptions. I have little doubt that these assumptions are too numerous to count or track down, and that I will take many of them to my grave without a clue that they even exist.
This understanding provides me with a very different stance than if I assumed that I had managed to untangle myself from my preconceptions, particularly in the way I interact with others. The idea that I am "pre-loaded" with a plethora of preconceptions helps me to interact with individuals from a place of humility.
In all of my interactions, I attempt to keep in mind that "I don't know what I don't know" — especially in regard to my underlying assumptions. This strategy helps keep me more receptive to new ideas, allowing me to be more open to learning from others with a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds.