Driving, communicating – why everyone’s worse than you

27th February 2018

In an AA survey, they found that 69% of drivers think they’re above average.

Well, that’s mathematically impossible.

50% of drivers are below average. That’s what an average is.

But the weird thing is, it’s easy to think we’re the only driver who’s doing things properly. Everyone who drives faster than us is "too fast". And everyone slower is clogging up traffic.

If every one of us thinks we’re better than everyone else… well, we can’t all be right!

It’s the same with communication. Whenever I ask people these two questions…

  1. Is the communication good in your company?
  2. And are you above average, compared to your colleagues?

… everyone always answers "No. Yes".

In other words, they say communication isn’t very good. But they’re above average.

What a relief that this poor communication is everyone else’s fault!

This is a phenomenon known as ‘illusory superiority’. Where we have the illusion that our way is the best way. And therefore that we’re better than we are.

So here’s a great little exercise to do. It will take you one minute. Here goes…

  1. Identify the three things you hate most about the communication in your company. Is it the email culture? Boring meetings? Something else?
  2. Grade yourself. How good/bad are you at each of those things you hate others doing? So, if you think there’s an email problem, do you send lots of emails? If you think meetings are boring, do you sometimes chair boring meetings?
  3. If steps 1 and 2 make you think you need to change… then change

This final step is usually pretty easy. It might not sound it. But it is.

For example, if you think that you email too much, pick up the phone more. If you think your meetings are boring, make them more interesting – vary the agenda, location, timing; include interesting stories and anecdotes. Anything that breaks the pattern.

It’s not always a pleasant exercise to do. But it’s worth it. I did this a while ago with my Tuesday Tips. Which ones landed best? Which were opened the most? Which got forwarded the most?

And I learnt an amazing thing – they weren’t all above average!

Are you?

Action point

Do that simple three-step exercise. It’ll only take you a minute. But it helps break the illusory superiority, and give us instant feedback where we need to change.

… unless, of course, you are miles better than average!

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