It’s Hard To Learn From Others

People have trouble accepting advice, learning from another’s experience, or being taught.  Why?  People value their own thoughts more highly than they value the thoughts of others.

If a Martian watched us objectively he would notice that, if I want to know what you think, the quaint way is to say,

 “A penny for your thoughts.”

Maybe I expect to get more than one thought for that price.

On the other hand, if you want to express your thoughts, you let me know by saying,

 “Here‘s my two cents worth.”

The Martian’s conclusion would be that, the listener values the thought of another at no more than one penny while the creator of a thought values it at two pennies.  This more than 100% difference in perceived value means two people are unlikely to share their thoughts efficiently.  The Martian’s patient observation of our misunderstandings would likely confirm that belief.

You do not motivate someone to act when the driving force is so different.

How long would it take to negotiate the purchase of a car if you value it at $25,000 while the dealer thinks $50,000 is fair?  Quite a long time!

Notice that ideas are harder to sell than cars.

The “not invented here” syndrome arises and often prevents their consideration.  Ego, stubborn pride and vanity are in the way.  So are all the rumors and innuendo that the listener half remembers.

One person displays an idea, the other values it at half.  The return of an alternative idea is just as surely and just as immediately depreciated by half.   Both parties think they have given something of two cents value and have received only a penny’s worth in exchange.

It is a wonder anyone is ever persuaded by someone else’s reasoning.

Should we care?  Maybe not!  Cynics point out that, despite inflation, a penny for most thoughts is still far more than their worth.

The point is this, all communication is difficult.  It is especially so if the sender does not pay attention to how the listener receives the message.  If you know, with certainty, that the value of the message will be discounted by half compared to what the listener already knows, you could do three things:

  1. Discover what they know and build on that, or (possibly and)
  2. Add more to your message.  Like testimonials, third party material, and examples.
  3. Delete buzz words, jargon, and acronyms.  These are discounted about 99.5%

Good communication is the duty of the sender, but they can only achieve that if they pay attention to and respect the thoughts of the receiver.

Pay attention and act on what you see.

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