I crave knowledge. It’s a part of who I am. I want to learn all the things and share all the stuff I’ve learned with anyone that is within earshot. The people that love me just accept that I’m going to spend a lot of time explaining something that I’ve found out or educating them about something they may not really care about. It’s a blessing and a curse.
What about those times when you’re speaking to someone, especially in a professional setting, and you realize that you’ve been talking to them about something they don’t know about? For example, in a networking conversation I often forget that people that are just starting out or haven’t had a lot of experience with advanced routing functionality don’t know the ins and outs of BGP. This overestimation of knowledge can lead to confused conversation partners or even some negative interactions.
Chris Grundemann knows exactly what I’m talking about. He wrote an amazing post about how the combination of of the curse of knowledge combined with the feeling of being on top of the world with your excitement about knowing something can lead you into situations where you aren’t speaking to someone on their level. Here’s an amazing excerpt:
Hopefully you can see the dilemma that Sarah (and all of us) faces here. The problem isn’t “known unknowns” or even “unknown unknowns” — both of which can be tricky to deal with. Instead, the problem we’re dealing with here is “unknown knowns.” Whoa. That’s kind of trippy, right? The curse of knowledge is essentially all about not remembering what you know, combined with not understanding what your audience knows, and leading to confusion. This is a super insidious problem, one that blocks the flow of information among people, which really is our biggest super-power as a species.
You definitely want to read more about this excellent topic on Chris’s Medium page here: Don’t Get High On Your Own Supply