If people relate in some way and one knows more about the connection than the other, what will happen? There are only a few ways to go from there.
- The knowledgeable one will educate the other
- The other will acquire more information from some external source.
- The knowledgeable one will protect the other
- The knowledgeable one will take advantage of the other.
- Nobody knows what will or has happened
There are innumerable situation where this arrangement applies. Innumerable likely means every. Sales people know more about their product than prospects, doctors more than patients, lawyers know more than clients, and politicians know more than voters.
It can end badly for the low information side of the transaction. Life insurance premiums are almost always the base for commissions, yet the client is buying coverage. If you are the client be sure the proper coverage is known before premium or type of coverage comes into play. Even then it can be a problem.
Politics are even more subtle. Politicians know the voters have only glimpses of the problems and the complexity. They choose carefully what the voters can see. They will need to be noticed and so may present things that are variable or even impossible. So long as the voter notices them, they can deal with the problems they create after the election.
If professionals adjust truth into bite sized pellets, which are just barely true, clients become less trusting. That increases the work load. It is better to upgrade their knowledge to where they can see the structure even if missing the details. The details change but the structures can live on and the clients can make decisions within them.
The opposite of upgrading knowledge becomes increasing the production values of the theatrical performance required to get and hold attention. The standard for that rises over time and so does the cost to create it. Remember when politicians talked about rational things and proposed choices that benefited the people. Today, elections cost billions and campaigning and fundraising for the next one begins almost on the day they are sworn into office.
It appears that the politicians do not intend to educate the voters, so it becomes incumbent on the voters to educate themselves. The first step is to understand the game.
In the US, Donald Trump is playing the theatrical roles of actor, writer, director and producer. He is getting attention and that is his goal. His policies do not have to make sense if they get the attention. If a voter looks at him only as someone who will be the president, they misunderstand the early part of the campaign game.
For other professionals the conversion from prospect to client is more prompt. If the show is what matters in the beginning, the future will unfold badly. No good relationship relies on undisclosed, unknown and unbalanced information.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.