Common communication mistakes that even smart salespeople make

Common communication mistakes that even smart salespeople make

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Whether you enjoy psychology or not, you will increase your understanding of how to be a great salesperson if you understand more about psychology.

Pinker has been listed among Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” He is currently chair of the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary.

In today’s workplace where email and Slack conversations are as common as in-person meetings, the perils of miscommunication are ever-present. And no one is immune.

Pinker, author of writing manual The Sense of Style says the chief impediment to clear communication is a phenomenon called the “curse of knowledge.”

This cognitive bias basically means that “when you know something, it’s extraordinarily difficult to know what it’s like not to know it,” Pinker tells CNBC Make It. “Your own knowledge seems so obvious that you’re apt to think that everyone else knows it, too.”

According to Dr. Pinker, these four strategies can help you overcome the “curse of knowledge.”

  1. Test out your message – Practice your message to others and take their feedback.
  2. Choose your words carefully – You use words to sketch mental pictures, convey ideas and tell stories. To get your point across, consider replacing jargon, idioms and obscure metaphors with short, commonly used words and direct explanations.
  3. Take a break – Another simple way to clarify your writing is to put it aside, and then come back to it after awhile to read it again. Whether you give it a few hours or a few days, returning with fresh eyes can make a big difference.
  4. Edit savagely – Clarifying your message to others can help you be happier and more successful in life and at work, especially when you consider the alternative: miscommunication.

The link below has a much more complete discussion of this topic.

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

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