Most people are not mind readers. Most people forget this

Thursday, 7 May, 2015

Frequently we fail to articulate our thoughts fully enough, or sometimes even just merely outline them, in the belief that others already know what we’re thinking, or what we want. How’s that meant to work anyway?

It’s something called the “the transparency illusion”, and it means many of us do not realise we are not making ourselves as understood as we thought we were, says US psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Most of the time, Halvorson says, people don’t realize they are not coming across the way they think they are. “If I ask you,” Halvorson told me, “about how you see yourself – what traits you would say describe you – and I ask someone who knows you well to list your traits, the correlation between what you say and what your friend says will be somewhere between 0.2 and 0.5. There’s a big gap between how other people see us and how we see ourselves.” This gap arises, as Halvorson explains in her book, from some quirks of human psychology. First, most people suffer from what psychologists call “the transparency illusion” – the belief that what they feel, desire, and intend is crystal clear to others, even though they have done very little to communicate clearly what is going on inside their minds.

Over do the communication is one solution. At least others will understand you far better that way. And people who communicate clearly tend to be generally happier as a result.

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