The Reason Why Most Of Us Are So Bad At Giving Directions
Nov 14, 2012 15:28
There's a reason why most of us tend to space out when it comes to giving directions, especially when it's a place that you've been tons of times.
According to Tom Stafford, this has to do with a psychological concept called the "Curse of Knowledge:" once you know something, like how to get to your house from the freeway, it becomes much more difficult to imagine how that looks to someone experiencing it for the first time.
So how do you counteract with this "curse"? What you need to do is practice what psychologists refer to as your "Theory of Mind", which is basically just putting yourself in the other person's cognitive shoes:
The good news is that your Theory of Mind isn't completely automatic—you can use deliberate strategies to help you think about what other people know. A good one when writing is simply to force yourself to check every term to see if it is jargon–-something you've learnt the meaning of but not all your readers will know. Another strategy is to tell people what they can ignore, as well as what they need to know. This works well with directions (and results in instructions like "keep going until you see the red door. There's a pink door, but that's not it").
The best part about regularly practicing this technique is that you will be able to improve your ability to explain things like directions to others. BBC Future, Image via source