Curse of Knowledge

by Tom Carroll

Ron del.icio.us’ed me a link about the Curse of Knowledge. I have to say I have been party to the curse of knowledge on more that one occasion. What I learned is that the curse of knowledge is really a symptom of flawed communication. As the complexity of the information increases so does the impact of flawed communication. So as I have had to deal with this in my career, I have developed some simple rules to help improve the communication and reduce the curse of knowledge.

  • Make clear any assumptions you might have about the topic or the listener’s/reader’s understanding of the topic.
  • Allow the listener to ask refining questions and respond in a supportive manner.
  • Break the topic into small logical chunks. (This is one can be tough)
  • Don’t expect the listeners light bulb to go off as soon as your done communicating.
  • Use pictures and/or a white board when ever possible.
  • Actually listen/read and consider the responses from your explanation.
  • Be willing to be wrong and admit it.
  • Avoid email at all cost, when the information is important only communicate Face to Face, For the less important stuff the telephone will do, and only use email for the mundane.
  • Communicate until you feel like your being a bother. It is at he bother point you are just communicating enough.

Remember it never seems obvious to the listener.