Chiropractic Coaching: Avoiding The Curse of Knowledge

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Chiropractic Coaching: Avoiding The Curse of Knowledge

*The following is an actual transcript for Chiropractic Coaching: Avoiding The Curse of Knowledge. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.*

Chiropractic Coaching: Avoiding The Curse of Knowledge

Hello, everybody, and welcome to Thrive in Five. I’m Dr. Dennis Perman, and I’ll be your chiropractic coach for today. This edition is called Avoiding the Curse of Knowledge. Leaders find themselves in a position of authority, and what we do with that authority determines the scope and level of our influence.

So, effective communicators must provide the appropriate guidance to move the process forward, whatever that process may be. Whether you’re educating patients, training staff, comparing notes with other doctors, or conversing with those in and around your sphere of influence, you have to choose language that’s a good fit for those you’re trying to reach.

Some of us are so wrapped up in what we’re saying that we forget to connect with the person or persons we’re saying it to. And we unwittingly under engage and under communicate. When the leader becomes aware of this and addresses it, the followers tend to get the message easier. So, offer direction in a form that’s comprehensible to even the least engaged and least skillful teammate to get sufficient buy in and execution and ultimately achieve the desired result.

It’s common for such communicators to fall into a trap of their own making, where their message is only partially received. And that communications gap is the subject of this discussion. Because you are so well versed in your area of expertise, there’s a subconscious tug to use the words you know and are comfortable with, since they would most accurately describe your thoughts.

The problem is, the person you’d typically be communicating with is much less well versed in your area of expertise, which leads to a gap in their understanding. You could conceptualize it this way. If our relative mastery could be quantified as level 10, for example, we recognize that as experts, we may need to adjust how we disseminate our philosophy so it’s easier for people to grasp.

And so we make an effort to simplify what we say, perhaps to a level six, which seems uncomplicated enough from our point of view. The problem is, a typical patient, prospective patient, or staff member may be operating at a level 1 or 2. They’re not dumb, they’re just under informed and under equipped to interpret the complexities of our more evolved thinking.

This phenomenon is referred to as the Curse of Knowledge, first noted by economists Kannerer, Lowenstein, and Weber in their 1989 article in the Journal of Political Economy. The curse of knowledge is the distance between what a master believes is basic and what an ordinary individual can absorb and utilize.

It’s like when a college professor forgets what it was like to be a student learning new material for the first time. It’s a cognitive bias, in other words, a misconception, where the communicator inadvertently and erroneously assumes that the audience has sufficient background to incorporate the message being presented.

Another way of saying this is that when someone is very experienced in a particular topic, he or she may find it difficult to translate it into common language, to see it from the point of view of those who are less experienced. This develops into a rift in communications, where the leader talks over people’s heads, which diminishes understanding and therefore effectiveness.

If this only amounted to holes in the person’s understanding, that’d be bad enough. But the mind is uncomfortable with a vacuum, so the listener will tend to make stuff up to fill in what they didn’t catch. Which creates a brand new set of glitches. The communicator thinks the communication was received in a certain way, while the receiver gets and then conveys a somewhat altered message, like the proverbial telephone game.

Where the information is garbled and distorted as it goes from person to person, ultimately unrecognizable as the original transmission. So, how do we avoid being trapped by the curse of knowledge? Blogger Giovanni Seeger suggests six quick pointers that will help you develop a better match between your message and your audience’s capacity to learn.

Number one. Cut out technical jargon and speak simply. When you use an unfamiliar word, the listener goes into a search pattern, which commandeers their thinking for a few seconds or longer. This interrupts their connection with you. Pick easier words, and you’ll run less risk of overwhelming your audience with overly complicated language.

Number two. Get a reality check from someone who doesn’t know what you know. By trying on your message with someone who resembles your audience, you can gain clarity and certainty that you’re speaking at a level the target receiver can interpret properly. Resist the impulse to defend. You want the feedback, so you can communicate more understandably, consistent with the needs of those you touch and serve.

Number three. Express yourself clearly using plain words. Stay away from fluffy or obscure references and use analogies people can easily get. Develop elegant ways to express your key concepts and ideas so you articulate your intentions unambiguously. Number four. Prepare far enough in advance so you can review your work and match it to the least common denominator of your participants.

When you sleep on it, you may reconsider some of your approach to make it more accessible. You may even brainstorm a new approach, but that will only manifest if you’re willing to take a second look. Number five. Choose the scope of your material carefully so you don’t aim too high or try to cover too much.

Pick appropriate stories and metaphors. Usually, if you focus on three well designed major points, you’ll keep it simple enough for your group to follow. Close your loops. Finish your stories and fully develop your presentation packaged for easy acceptance and integration for your audience. Number six, be present.

Just knowing about the curse of knowledge may prevent you from slipping down that slope. Tune your communication to dovetail with the needs, desires, and emotional level of your listeners, as well as the intellectual track that will work best. It makes you a better presenter overall, with individuals as well as groups, and minimizes missed opportunity that can cost you in the long run.

In practical terms, avoiding the curse of knowledge will require that you stay in uptime and aware. If someone is not following your communication, then it’s up to you to notice and respond accordingly. Check that you have maintained rapport, and match and mirror as needed. You may also want to interject little prompting questions along the way in your conversation.

Are you following? Does that make sense? Is that clear? Do you understand? Are you with me? And other gentle interjections to make sure the person isn’t trancing out on you. Checking in like this along the way is a hallmark of the quality communicator and will greatly reduce your tendency to talk over people’s heads.

Work with your team to identify and correct common rough spots in your patient education, training, and conversations. When you invite feedback on what isn’t coming across clearly, you can mastermind and come up with better ways to get your key points understood and applied. And stay light on your feet.

There are clues you can pick up on, like a look of confusion, or a question or response that reflects insufficient understanding or seems irrelevant. Recognize if you’re not engaging effectively, and you can vary your approach until you find a pattern or style that works in that situation. Great communicators are sensitive to the curse of knowledge, and find ways to change the conversation to connect with people viscerally and emotionally, not just logically.

Pay attention to the way you educate your patients and train your team. A more refined technique will not only grow your practice, it will also serve the greater good by moving more people toward the chiropractic wellness lifestyle. Chances are you’re already somewhat familiar with the Six Essentials since we’ve been talking about it for a while, but if you want more information on it, just scan the QR code you see on your screen and it will take you right to the Six Essentials website.

Thanks for watching. I’m Dr. Dennis Perman for The Masters Circle Global, where legends are made and legendary practices are built through chiropractic coaching.


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