In reading Jonah Berger’s book “Magic Words“, he shared some thoughts on “The Curse of Knowledge” and how it can impact the ways that you communicate with others. In his words:
This curse has a name, and appropriately, it is called the curse of knowledge. It’s a curse because the more we know, the more we assume others know, and thus the more we end up communicating in ways that are tough to understand. And abstractness is the cause.
I face this a bit from both sides, depending on where my knowledge is strong versus where it’s weak.
Where I’m strong, I need to be careful not to talk past people. In the world of marketing, it’s easy to just rattle off things like SEO, PPC, DNS, CRO and dozens of other acronyms that many people don’t immediately recognize. These are things that are important for us to utilize with our clients, so I try to be careful to explain them the first time around.
Where I’m weak, these are times when I just need to raise questions quickly. If I’m having car trouble, a mechanic could quickly blow past the depths of my automotive knowledge, so I’ll often slow them down a bit to explain what they really mean.
In both cases, trust is crucial. Our clients need to trust that when I’m using those acronyms that I’m serious about what I mean and how it will help them. For things like the car, I need to know I trust my mechanic because it’d be fairly easy to convince me to pay for unnecessary work.
No leads to yes
One way to build that trust is by saying “no”, because it adds more legitimacy to a future “yes”. I shared a few examples of that a while ago, and it’s still something I practice today. I always turn down potential work from a client if I don’t think it will benefit them, and I still visit David Carter for help with my car because he’s turned down a lot of unnecessary work on our cars over the years (though he’s still done plenty).
I’m sure you have places where your knowledge is well above-average and other places where it’s not, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to avoid this “curse” simply by being aware of it and making sure to seek clarity.