You are not as smart as you think you are...
Of course, neither am I.
I have a fascination with cognitive issues. Fallacies and bias that we all have and lurk beneath our conscious thinking. I heard a stat the other day that stated that something 99% of our thinking is unconscious. This may or may not be surprising to you, and you may think that number is inflated, or you may think it should be higher.
If I had my own way, I would probably spend the rest of my life digging into stuff like this, but here are my takeaways from that stat. If the % is that high, how many of us dig into what is really going on under the hood?
If so much of our lives, relationships, and choices we make are determined by our decisions and thinking doesn’t it make sense that we should all maybe take a look at the drivers?
I have written in the past about stuff like this. I talk about the default factory settings, check it out here. The quick version is this, if you are not putting an intention to something then you are choosing the default intention by the omission of effort.
So, one of the most fascinating cognitive biases is the “Dunning-Kruger effect”. You may have heard of it or you may have heard of it by a different name, “Dummy curve” or even “Modern Jackass”
Here is the quick Wiki introduction to it.
Think about that!
This is a “measurable deficit “in our ability to objectively evaluate our knowledge.
What this can look like is when we start out in a new endeavor most of us can recognize the fact that maybe we don’t do much.
So, when we start out if asked a question, we might not really feel like an expert, so we defer.
We can often deflect by asking a question for example when asked does this come in brown, we say” I don’t know is that important to you?”
From there the person we are chatting with can say yes or no either way you are in good shape.
Compare that to how we respond after we have even just a little training or knowledge.
We jump right into answering. “Oh yes it comes in deep Savanah brown, you will love it. It is number one on the brown charts” from there we can hear someone say, “That’s a pity, I hate brown”.
Instead of truly trying to understand whom we are speaking with we subconsciously switch our focus to giving a great answer. It stops being about them and starts to become about us. We go from trying to help people to trying to impress them.
The issue is that we can’t see what we are doing because we judge ourselves at better in our ability than we actually are.
Bottom line is poor performers can’t tell that they are actually poor performers.
After a while of being like this, we are less "successful". This is not an issue if you can honestly evaluate yourself and take corrective action. However, for many, the Dunning Kruger effect impedes this ability. It gets worse.
Instead of improving ourselves we often start to blame others. This has a toxic effect. It can be slow and insidious.
So how can we avoid this cognitive blindside?
Start with the simple admission and mindset "I may need to listen to others on this” Being mindfully aware is very powerful. It is a beginner’s mind or the learner's mind.
“It is impossible to learn what we think we already know”
Another useful habit to keep this effect from leading you astray is data.
We all have opinions. Lord knows we all probably have too many. A great filter to help with this is using data. Like, actual date. Not gut, not a hunch, but actual empirical data.
This allows us to speak clearly and can help move our speed of decision making up.
I could write more and maybe I will, but for know just start thinking about this subject.
These are just a few of the tips you can use. But the biggest thing is probably just being aware of your ego and keeping it in check. You will be surprised by the impact on all your relationships. (bonus points for realizing this is more than just a work thing).
After all, you may just not be as smart as you think you are :)
these are just the thoughts of someone who used to know more but now knows less...
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