Do you think you're more likely to have a misunderstanding or miscommunication with a close friend or partner or with a perfect stranger? If you’re like most of us, you probably assume you communicate most clearly with those closest to you. But that is often not the case.
Kenneth Savitsky of Williams College recently conducted an experiment that found people greatly overestimate the degree to which they imagine they are on the same page as close friends and partners.
As described on NPR, Savitsky and colleagues brought a group of couples into their lab: Some were married; some were strangers. People invariably predicted there would be less miscommunication with partners. In reality, people understood strangers about the same. But they anticipated they would have significantly better communication with those close to them—so there's actually a greater risk in communicating with loved ones because we assume we're going to understand what they mean and what they want. When it comes to strangers, we're much more likely to put effort into understanding what's happening in another person's mind.
The lesson: Even if you know someone really well, it is dangerous to ever make assumptions about what that person is thinking, feeling or wanting. So when in doubt – ask!
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