The Curse of Knowledge - Focus Your Thinking

The Curse of Knowledge

The Curse of Knowledge

I’m right, they are wrong!!

Everything you know is right, until it isn’t… this is called "The Curse of Knowledge".

How many times do you go through this in your business, you thought you knew everything there is to know. Then all of the sudden you have a realisation and it all changes. Looking back, it's obvious, but before it didn’t seem possible.

Perception is the same, you get lost in our own little worlds of “what I know everybody else SHOULD know. That’s how it works, isn’t it”.

This is the “Curse of Knowledge” taking over your thinking. Once you learn something you assume everyone else has that knowledge so you talk “As If

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias according to which better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. The term was coined by Robin Hogarth. –

So if you are doing this, then there is a good chance that people that work for you and the people that you interact with in your business do the same thing.

This is why you become so annoyed with people when they go against what you are “Thinking” and I say thinking because you have not clarified to understand why they would do something that is against our thinking.

Here is a great story I heard that showcases how a person can have one perception and until asking a question it then it all changes.

There is a man (let's call him Sam) on a bus with his two children and the children are running around and Sam is letting them just be themselves and they are loud. Another man sitting behind Sam starts to get annoyed because Sam is not controlling his children and they are starting to get too noisy.

The other man jumps up and walks up to Sam and ask him if he has noticed his children running around. Sam suddenly snaps out of his trance and comes back to the bus and says sorry we have just come from the hospital and their mother died today. I am not handling it too well and I am not sure how the children are coping. The other man now changes his whole perception of the situation and immediately wants to help Sam and his children. He says sorry to hear that bad news what can I do to help you?

If the man had not asked the question he would have become more and more annoyed and walked away from that situation thinking that this man has no respect for people. He would have been wrong because that is only one side of the story.

So you have the curse of knowledge that is blinding your perception and you have other people’s perception that is stopping them from seeing clearly what you are saying.

Could this be happening to you?

Is it that complicated?

Yes, is the answer in the case of newer relationships and when new concepts are being introduced.

Once have an understanding of knowledge and your perception has been established, then with every further interaction and updates on how your business strategies will move forward will happen much faster.

What I hear as the first reaction to this is You mean I have to take peoples feelings and point of view on everything?”

No, that would make things even more confusing…

There are important decisions to be made in your business and they involve interactions with people. How they understand the situations in some cases is going to be different to yours, as we have already established.

This is not a bad thing, because they will have a better understanding about certain situations than you, which will give you some great insights and expand your knowledge.

Thinking black or white

In business the majority of the time this perception is going to be the other way around, they need to understand the situation from your perception if your people are going to be effective in your business.

So how do I do that?

The key to understanding your peoples perception, is asking questions

Asking Questions will bring context to a situation, the better the question, the more clarity about the difference in perceptions. Once you understand the difference, then it is so much easier to frame the situation, whereas if you keep saying it the same way you will get the same result Confusion!!

Your Perceptions holding you back in Business?

There are 2 things that happen in your business that has been holding you back by not understanding both sides of perceptions.

  • 1
    Assumption – Assuming that people understand what you have said, without clarifying you can waste hours, days and months going in the wrong direction. Simply asking questions provides clarity.
  • 2
    Arguing a point – An argument over a point of difference. You are arguing a point that you both want the same result, unfortunately your perceptions are different, so you both can't see the other person perception of the arguing point. If you understood the other person's perception then you are able to move forward.

The answer to both of these scenarios is how to ask better questions

How do I ask a question to quickly understand another person’s perception?

  • 1
    Start with a more general question – “Do you think this is Black or White?” as an example so you can first establish at a high level how the other person is thinking.
  • 2
    Dig into the detail – “Oh, you think this is white what makes you think that way?” They will now open up to explaining their reasoning to why they think that way. As opposed to, if you say that’s not white no no no you're wrong.
  • 3
    Connect the dots – Now that you have an understanding of their point of view why its white, then you can connect your thinking into theirs so they are open to your opinion or point of view and you will be able to change their perception of your point of view, because they’re now increasing their knowledge instead of arguing.
  • 4
    Clarify – Once you have connected the dots you need to ask the question again to see if they have a new perspective.

This is a work in progress to change your habit of interacting with people. It has taken me time to re-program the way I approach people and I still get it wrong and have to stop re-assess and ask better questions.

The big take away from this article is to start practicing and you will find your business benefiting from it with less roadblocks and less arguments about the wrong things.