We Are Blind and Don’t Even Realize

Food for Thought

We Are Blind and Don’t Even Realize

How our delusion, hubris and prejudice limit us

2018-05-01T14:58:13+00:00Mai 2018|

Overconfidence.

The two Economics Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky referred to the overconfidence effect.
According to this, we simply overrate our abilities. 80% of all drivers consider themselves in the best 30% … 87% of Stanford University MBA students assess their academic achievements as above average…
From a purely mathematical standpoint, this cannot be the case, but it is human. It is my own, subconsciously controlled blindness and overconfidence that let me think that I am a good communicator. And because this thought triggers a pleasant feeling in me, my subconscious strengthens this opinion. And once again I feel superior.

In most of the introductory conversations with new clients they ask me which topics I intend to cover in the coachings. My answer is always:

“I would like to start with the issue of effective communication before we address other skills, because it is the basis for all our business activities.”

The reactions of the clients to this suggestion have been the same for years. It can be summarised in one word:

PREJUDICE

This causes us to misinterpret, overhear or dismiss facts or truths, because we assume that we already know and understand these facts and that they do not apply to us.

Thanks, I’ve heard that often enough — we don’t need that.
I understand, but it doesn’t apply to me.
No, I do not believe that, it is an exaggeration.
Yes, I know many who have this problem. But I don’t.

In this particular example I often hear:

“Oh – I think we don’t need to work on our communication skills. We do that all day long and I am certain we are very good at it.”

DELUSION + HUBRIS + PREJUDICE

Not really very surprising. Or have you ever heard someone say:

“Yes, I’m actually a terrible communicator!”

People readily admit if they cannot sing, they are not musical or they cannot cook, but to not be able to speak in a structured way, that would be truly embarrassing.
Delusion is thus caused by an urge for

SELF-PROMOTION.

I will do anything to portray an image that is good enough for me and my surroundings. I want to ‘look good.’ In my inner relationship to myself, one refers to this as

WHITEWASHING.

In external relationships, when positioning oneself within one’s surroundings, this is referred to as

CONCEALMENT.

The cause of whitewashing and concealment is a

LACK IN HONESTY.

The absence of honesty and integrity towards myself and my surroundings. And that is a polite way of putting it. One could say it is a ‘lie’.
This lack in honesty is, in turn, a result of missing information or the presence of

SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE

We know how to communicate…
In order to explain the difference between ‘speaking’ and ‘communicating’ to my clients, I often briefly address the core elements of communication.

Communication Elements

  • Non-verbal communication;
  • Interpretation of the expressions and gestures of the interlocutor;
  • Identification of the visual, the auditory, the kinesthetic communication types using the eye movements of the interlocutor (up, middle, down)
    and the best way to communicate with each of these types (“how do you see this?” – “how does this sound to you?” – “what does your gut feeling say?”);
  • Interpretation of body language, in order to recognise whether the person is a
  • ‛Driver’, an ‛Expresser’, an ‛Evaluator’ or a ‛Reflector’ (Open-Forward; Open-Back; Closed-Forward; Closed-Back);
  • Is he a Push-People-Type, a Pull-Task-Type, a Push-Task-Type or a Pull-People-Type?
  • Based on the preferred communication style of the other person, the correct communication strategy can be chosen:
  • ‛Bridging’, ‛Convincing’, ‛Exciting’ or ‛Demanding’.

Here, clients also often react the same way. In order to remain ‛in charge’ of the situation, they ask me to analyse them:

“Great, now we have been talking to each other for half an hour. Why don’t you tell me what type of communicator I am?”

So I describe as precisely as possible the personally preferred communication style of him/her, what communication type he/she is and at the same time determine how I have communicated with him/her over the last 30 minutes and why I have done so in this way. Which words and terms, gestures or expressions I have avoided and which words, terms, gestures and expressions I have used on purpose and much more. When I am finished with my short analysis, I ask the same question:

“Do you want to try it with me?”

This is a very probing way to at least make someone aware of their SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE – not to hurt someone or gain an advantage, but because it is the only way I know to turn lacking honesty into understanding and to combat the DELUSION.

Easy to understand: in a mental state of not knowing or only half knowing something, we often unconsciously block out factors that we do not want to see.
We block out understanding how colleagues are really feeling if we do not listen to them honestly.
We do not think about the damage caused by gossip.
We are not clear about the possible consequences our decisions could have for others.
This unconscious blocking out means that parts of reality are missing. Therefore, it is not possible for us to appreciate the whole picture at the right time with all its facets — to really see what is actually there, before we act.

„I don’t know what your problem is…“
„Now, don’t get so upset…“
„But why didn’t you tell me this sooner?“

Classic phrases in the vocabulary of the deluded.
No one wants to purposely be without knowledge or deluded. So what is behind this, what drives us into unintentional blindness?
It is simply the fact that we see ourselves as too important. You, me, practically every person on this planet.
That is why this phenomenon is also described as the

EGO DELUSION

We are the centre of our own universe. We focus permanently on our own strengths or also weaknesses and do not ascribe the same value to others. Our own reality is superior to any other.
Delusion is like a sleep mask that robs us of our sight. Sophocles wrote in the Greek tragedy Antigone:

“Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make blind.”

Destroy? What did the philosopher mean by this? He meant the worst manifestation of delusion:

FANATICISM. Think of political extremism: complete blindness, mostly driven by HATRED.
Also, OBSESSION can often be observed among workaholics, when they are obsessed by the success of the company or the project and are blind to everything else, often driven by GREED.

DELUSION as a result of self-promotion, whitewashing, concealment, lacking honesty and superficial knowledge or lack of knowledge thereby causes two extremely poisonous mental factors:

GREED & HATRED

In a weakened form, delusion manifests itself in one or more of the following mental states — and thereby we return back to the lowlands of office routine:

CONFUSION

Wow – what he is talking about – does that mean I have been communicating poorly all my life?

➔ Not knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

DOUBT

Well, is this really that useful? Why do all this?

Not knowing the power of effective communication.

WORRY

I don’t know how to improve my communication after all these years.

➔ Not knowing how to approach solutions.

HOPE

After the coaching session I will hopefully master all the necessary skills.

➔ Not knowing the future.

PAST

Well, no one has ever told me that I communicate badly.

➔ Not knowing the process of change.

GUILT

I think I have to apologise to some people, because clearly I haven’t listened to them attentively enough.

Not knowing the external image.

WHAT THE DEVIL MAKES ME SO BLIND THAT I CANNOT EVEN SEE MY OWN LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AND AM DELUDED?

Four possibilities in Latin (and English)

A: EGO (I)
B: TU (YOU)
C: IS (HE)
D: VOS (YOU PLURAL)

Correct. That is why I also gave you the Latin options… It is my

EGO.

Let us summarise once again the entire causal chain of our example ‘better listening’:

My best friend, my
(1) ego, does not allow me to recognise my
(2) lacking knowledge. I do not even know what effective communication consists of and what skills are required for it. The lack of knowledge inevitably leads to
(3) delusion. I am therefore not even aware of the fact that I have been a poor listener up until now. On the contrary, I thought I was pretty good at it. During the seminar,
(4) emotions arise, such as confusion (that bad?), envy (why can my colleague listen so well?), guilt (oh no, I probably upset lots of colleagues) and other feelings. So that I feel better after the seminar, my best friend ego comes running to my aid. It confirms to me that I am an excellent manager and reminds me that up to now, no one from my circle of friends has even mentioned that I am a bad listener. In addition, my ego motivates me to seek out ways to promote myself, because the ego wants to be fed! And, for example, thinks about the budget meeting happening in two weeks. Without realising it, my
(5) willpower (“I want to be a better listener”) fades. So there is no
(6) decision-making process.
(7) Decisiveness,
(8) discipline and the resulting
(9) actions, such as better listening, fail to materialise.

Game over.

Communication seminar was a waste of time.

And all of this just because of the EGO?

 


Read next:

How to reduce your Ego with four sentences

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