If you think you might be suffering from the curse at work, don’t feel too bad! As Dan and Chip Heath explain, you’ve “had years of immersion in the logic and conventions of business” and so you are simply summarizing the wealth of data in your head.
I like how Stephen Pinker puts it in his presentation
in regards to written content:
It simply doesn’t occur to the writer that readers haven’t learned their jargon, don’t seem to know the intermediate steps that seem to them to be too obvious to mention, and can’t visualize a scene currently in the writer’s mind’s eye. And so the writer doesn’t bother to explain the jargon, or spell out the logic, or supply the concrete details…
This reminds me of some mental models we have already covered, such as unconscious competence
- where you perform something so well you don’t even have to think about it. It also seems like a bit of a reverse Dunning Kruger effect
- being too knowledgable to remember what it was like to be unknowledgeable!
Much of the advice to overcome the curse centers on maintaining awareness of the audience’s level of knowledge so you can communicate to their level. There’s also suggestions to use concrete language as much as possible, and include stories. It’s also worth remembering to “take them on the journey”.
I’ll leave you with a little of Pinker’s advice:
The key is to assume that your readers are as intelligent and sophisticated as you are, but that they happen not to know something you know.