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Topics: Change Management, Communications Management, PM in Academia
How do you deal with "the curse of knowledge"?
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Have you ever been in a situation where someone assumes you know what they know? so they keep throwing jargon at you and talk about stuff you just don't know. Well, this is the cognitive bias called "the curse of knowledge."

How do you feel about this?

How do you usually avoid falling into this trap yourself?
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I usually do one of two things.
- Interrupt and let them know that I am having trouble understanding them since I am not familiar with this concept.
- Tell them that my mind reading is on the fritz and they are going to need to work a little harder at getting me to understand.

The only time I may just sit there and nod is in the case where it is not very important to me to know the detail and I get the basic concept.
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1 reply by Farouq Zaabab
Aug 14, 2018 1:39 PM
Farouq Zaabab
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I like the second point Dinah :) so funny.

I sometimes start with the question "are you familiar with (fill in the blanks). I found it helps in one on one situations, but not in large groups.
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Aug 14, 2018 1:07 PM
Replying to Dinah Young
...
I usually do one of two things.
- Interrupt and let them know that I am having trouble understanding them since I am not familiar with this concept.
- Tell them that my mind reading is on the fritz and they are going to need to work a little harder at getting me to understand.

The only time I may just sit there and nod is in the case where it is not very important to me to know the detail and I get the basic concept.
I like the second point Dinah :) so funny.

I sometimes start with the question "are you familiar with (fill in the blanks). I found it helps in one on one situations, but not in large groups.
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1 reply by Dinah Young
Aug 14, 2018 1:52 PM
Dinah Young
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The one thing that I found about groups, is if I am not understanding the speaker then it is very likely at least one maybe several others are struggling as well. So I have no problem interrupting someone when there is a group involved and asking them for clarification.
I will never forget the time I was at the rehearsal diner for a friend's wedding. They put this meat in front of me and it was bloody. I was trying to figure out a way that I could eat the edges. Finally the mother of the bride noticed and asked if I maybe wanted it cooked a little longer. I said yes, she called the waiter over. When I asked, suddenly 10 other people lifted their plates and said "me too". Sometimes you need to be the one with the "big mouth" that asks the questions or makes the statement.
Network:2620



Aug 14, 2018 1:39 PM
Replying to Farouq Zaabab
...
I like the second point Dinah :) so funny.

I sometimes start with the question "are you familiar with (fill in the blanks). I found it helps in one on one situations, but not in large groups.
The one thing that I found about groups, is if I am not understanding the speaker then it is very likely at least one maybe several others are struggling as well. So I have no problem interrupting someone when there is a group involved and asking them for clarification.
I will never forget the time I was at the rehearsal diner for a friend's wedding. They put this meat in front of me and it was bloody. I was trying to figure out a way that I could eat the edges. Finally the mother of the bride noticed and asked if I maybe wanted it cooked a little longer. I said yes, she called the waiter over. When I asked, suddenly 10 other people lifted their plates and said "me too". Sometimes you need to be the one with the "big mouth" that asks the questions or makes the statement.
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1 reply by Farouq Zaabab
Aug 14, 2018 2:04 PM
Farouq Zaabab
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Yeah Dihah Totally! That is why I think it's good to have a mix of personalities in a team. I'm naturally an introvert, and I love to have extroverts in my team for the same reason you mentioned.
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Aug 14, 2018 1:52 PM
Replying to Dinah Young
...
The one thing that I found about groups, is if I am not understanding the speaker then it is very likely at least one maybe several others are struggling as well. So I have no problem interrupting someone when there is a group involved and asking them for clarification.
I will never forget the time I was at the rehearsal diner for a friend's wedding. They put this meat in front of me and it was bloody. I was trying to figure out a way that I could eat the edges. Finally the mother of the bride noticed and asked if I maybe wanted it cooked a little longer. I said yes, she called the waiter over. When I asked, suddenly 10 other people lifted their plates and said "me too". Sometimes you need to be the one with the "big mouth" that asks the questions or makes the statement.
Yeah Dihah Totally! That is why I think it's good to have a mix of personalities in a team. I'm naturally an introvert, and I love to have extroverts in my team for the same reason you mentioned.
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Either fake it until you make it, or ask them to clarify for you. It's easier to ask, and better to admit you don't know something rather than being caught faking it.
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Ah! This could be either taken as a bully tactic or as a way of finding out how much you know or, finally, a way that they would cover up their own short comings.
The way I handle this is to be as gracious and humble as possible. Perhaps by politely interjecting with something like "I'm sorry, the last environment I worked, we had an entirely different nomenclature. Would you be so kind as to elaborate on the acronyms?"
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1 reply by Farouq Zaabab
Aug 15, 2018 5:22 AM
Farouq Zaabab
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Nicholas-

Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

I agree with what you said. There is one scenario, however, that this might not work: job interviews. What do you think?
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At some point they were where we were at, as in not knowing. How they went about finding that knowledge might be worth more than the actual knowledge in most cases.
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Aug 14, 2018 10:39 PM
Replying to Nicholas Tufaro
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Ah! This could be either taken as a bully tactic or as a way of finding out how much you know or, finally, a way that they would cover up their own short comings.
The way I handle this is to be as gracious and humble as possible. Perhaps by politely interjecting with something like "I'm sorry, the last environment I worked, we had an entirely different nomenclature. Would you be so kind as to elaborate on the acronyms?"
Nicholas-

Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

I agree with what you said. There is one scenario, however, that this might not work: job interviews. What do you think?
Network:2029



Ask questions. Not everyone knows everything. And often, we tend to live in our own world with an expectation others are in the know. Generally, not out of ill will, simply a judgment error.

That said....

There is a tendency to build up this facade to protect against fear - fear of others finding out you don't know. It's seemingly very prevalent in our culture now, having an expectation to know, and thought negatively on not alway's 'getting it'. This learned behavior starts young, in school, and being afraid when the teacher calls on you to know the answer, maybe having other students laugh. This teaches children to fake it and hope it passes.
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1 reply by Farouq Zaabab
Aug 15, 2018 12:01 PM
Farouq Zaabab
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Thanks, Andrew. You make a valid point about how prevalent fear of failure or fear of judgement is in our culture. Indeed, it leads to wasted learning opportunities.
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A common problem for myself. I always assume others know what I know. In our realm acronyms are all too prevalent. You know your in trouble when even you or your colleagues forget what they mean.
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1 reply by Dinah Young
Aug 15, 2018 10:08 AM
Dinah Young
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It would be nice if everyone could just read your mind, but life does not work that way. :)
A couple of things in my career taught me the need to rephrase what I am saying for the audience to understand.
One was when I worked with a deaf man. I learned some basic signs to communicate with him. My limitations in sign language forced me to become more creative in explaining technical concepts.
Another similar experience is from working with people who are not proficient in English. You need to find words they understand to get your point across.
The acronym issue is a crazy one. My first contract was working with the Navy. I created an acronym dictionary just to be able to read through the statement of work. In any document you write, an acronym should be spelling out in the beginning. Then you can use it throughout the document. The same needs to be done when you are doing a presentation or having a discussion.
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