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Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker: The No. 1 communication mistake that even smart people make

The “curse of knowledge”

It is a cognitive bias that describes the fact that when you know something, it's very difficult to know what it's like not to know it.

The things you know seem so obvious to you and you assume that everyone else knows them too.

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Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker: The No. 1 communication mistake that even smart people make

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker: The No. 1 communication mistake that even smart people make

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/20/harvard-psychologist-steven-pinker-shares-no-1-communication-mistake.html

cnbc.com

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Key Ideas

The “curse of knowledge”

It is a cognitive bias that describes the fact that when you know something, it's very difficult to know what it's like not to know it.

The things you know seem so obvious to you and you assume that everyone else knows them too.

Test out your message

Seek feedback. What it's obvious to you might not be obvious to the others. 

Show your message to other people and have them honestly say how clear it is to them.

Choose your words carefully

Use words that will help people understand what you’re trying to say rather than words that are confusing or distracting.

Avoid using jargon, idioms and obscure metaphors.

Take a break

Write your message and put it aside. Come back to it after a while and read it again. 

It will give you a fresh perspective on it.

Edit savagely

The most important part of writing is rewriting.

For every sentence, ask: ‘Is that actually conveying to someone other than me what I mean for it to convey? Can I state it more succinctly, more concretely?’

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  • You’ll want to calibrate what you write to your relationship both with the recipient and with the deceased. Make it personal.
  • If you knew the deceased well, sharing a couple of warm memories will let the recipient feel there’s a shared bond.
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  • Use tact. Don’t tell the recipient how they should be feeling.
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Honesty is the most important ingredient. You don’t have to be or have gone through something to write about it but you must have a heartfelt feeling about it so you can expose that emotion thro...

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You need to have a beginning that builds to a middle and an ending, or at least an idea of where you’re going, as it is key to explore your themes and foreshadow things properly.

Another important thing is to revise your writings. Your first draft is likely to contain multiple errors, poorly phrased sections, and inconsistencies.

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To do it, you must know what your audience expects from the type of writing you’re doing and then defy it.

Without the surprise, without the twist, if you don’t pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be memorable. It’s precisely the fact that things are not what they seem that makes a story interesting.

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  • It helps to create effective brand messaging.  It determines how your brand is perceived and also builds trust with customers.
  • Customer service relies on good communication. "60% of consumers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience."  Microsoft’s 2016 Global State of Customer Service Report.
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