Saturday, January 20, 2007

Communication pattern

Couple of years ago I adopted the thinking process of assuming that everybody in the meeting is smarter than me. Since then I realized that this pattern gives you ammunition to communicate and understand others better.

The killer in any communication is the Curse of Knowledge. When we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become ignorant to others people’s view and lousy communicators. Doctors can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a simple question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. He is trapped in a road which when he talks to you, he talks from his view that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the Doctor in our own domain of expertise.

This is illustrated in the story by Roger von Oech about a creativity teacher who invited a student to his house for afternoon tea. They talked for a while, and then it was teatime. The teacher poured some tea into the student's cup. Even after the cup was full, he continued to pour, and soon tea overflowed onto the floor.
Finally, the student said, "You must stop pouring; the tea isn't going into the cup." The teacher replied, "The same is true with you. If you are to receive any of my teachings, you must first empty out the contents of your mental cup." His point: without the ability to forget, our minds remain cluttered with ready-made answers, and we're not motivated to ask the questions that lead our thinking to new ideas.

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