Accepting Common Knowledge2 min read

Inspired by a talk given by Steven Pinker. Steven defines common knowledge as knowledge that is known by everyone involved and everyone is aware that they share that knowledge. Shared knowledge is knowledge that everyone knows, but everyone assumes that the others involved don’t also know it.

I sometimes get frustrated with myself for not being able to indirectly influence people. I wonder if it’s because of how I view relationships with people.

Steven Pinker in his talk about common knowledge and shared knowledge discussed relationship types briefly. He defined them as being based on community, dominance, or reciprocity.

I think I am an odd duck in that I see almost all relationships as being based on reciprocity. If someone isn’t getting something out of a relationship, they shouldn’t be involved in it. I don’t ascribe to dominance being a thing I allow and it makes me physically upset when someone is asserting dominance over me.

I am fine with a system existing that makes me be put into a situation where someone has limited authority over me, but when someone exerts undue influence or I feel the system is horribly broken I become physically upset.

By the end of the video, I also realized that I am not someone who enjoys shared knowledge on things I am trying to communicate. I am fine with another person having shared knowledge if they are the ones sharing something, as I don’t really want to make them say more than they want to. It is essential for me to know someone understands what I am saying and that we both understand their response.

I feel like the combination of wanting complete clarity in things I am saying but allowing someone to be as unclear as they want to be makes me relatively “likable.” It works well in sales situations that I have been in with people.

I have a feeling most people stop at a desire for shared knowledge instead of ensuring that all parties know they understand things the same.

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