May 19, 2015

What You See Is All There Is – WYSIATI


Day in and day out we think, we talk, we hear, we watch body language, and we use all of our senses for communication. With 2 Terabytes of information coming in on us at any one moment and only having the capability to sense 11 Megabytes in that same moment, it’s impossible to comprehend everything that is happening. Like an onion, there are so many layers we’re not seeing. Yet, as psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman says in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, we tend to believe that “What you see is all there is” (WYSIATI) and act accordingly. And, that’s why, in spite of all the communication training we’ve received, we continue to mis-communicate. What would it be like to communicate with real understanding and minimize, and sometimes completely eliminate, the errors that prove so costly in business and personal life? Here are 3 few simple ways to help make that a reality:

1) Slow is fast. I know that you want to hurry and communicate so that you can get on with the next project. But, how many times has that expediency cost you? What was the cost to have to redo that project because someone got in a hurry and a misunderstanding occurred? How many sales have been lost because a salesperson got in a hurry and didn’t ask all the right questions? How may kids have been lost to the “wrong” crowd because their parents didn’t take time to communicate? Taking the time (sometimes it’s literally just a few seconds) to ensure that what you said is what is understood, or that you understood someone else, can save enormous amounts of time and money to fix misunderstandings after-the-fact.

2) Remove “Allness” from your ego. Things are constantly changing, even right now something in your business is changing and you aren’t even aware of it, yet. Sometimes we believe we know everything about a lot of things (Allness and WYSIATI), especially if you’re a leader in an organization you probably believe you’re supposed to know everything about a lot of things. The truth is, you can never know everything about anything. By taking on a humble attitude that there is always something to be learned, you can open yourself and your business to new, fresh, and innovative ideas to be communicated to you.

3) “How do you know?” We like to believe that we control our behaviors and our emotions. Neuroscience tells a different story. Imagine being able to help yourself, and others, to understand their actions. For example, a salesperson says, “I’m not going to hit my numbers.” Most sales managers will ask the reason and excuse eliciting question, “Why not?” What is a more effective communication strategy? By asking “How do you know?”, the salesperson is required to share the strategy of how they arrived at the conclusion they came to. A strategy can be fixed. Reasons and excuses can’t. The “How” question takes you beyond WYSIATI.

Of course, there are many additional ways that we can make our communication more effective and help us reach our personal and professional goals.

I would love to hear from you! What would you like to share about problems you’ve experienced when communicating? What are some of the ways you’ve found to be more effective?

Dr. Edward Lewellen is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.