This post about simplicity is Part III in our series on building trust. We’ve learned that you can build trust through listening and vulnerability so far. Both of those are passive behaviors. Now let’s learn about the active behavior of simplicity.
- Building Trust — Part I: Listening
- Building Trust — Part II: Vulnerability
- Building Trust — Part III: Simplicity
- Building Trust — Part IV: Follow-through
Simple, concise, and straightforward are all words that I use to describe great communication. As the saying goes, if you can’t explain an idea simply then you don’t understand it well enough.
Your brain is lazy!
Unfortunately, your brain is lazy and – just like electricity – takes the path of least resistance when faced with a vast amount of disparate information. Lightening strikes the closest object with an opposite electrical charge. That’s why trees should not be used as protection from the rain during a thunderstorm. The trees are likely the closest to the lightening strike and an easy target for the lazy lightening.
As humans, we latch onto the first piece of information that we can easily understand and we disregard the complicated information. If we can’t latch onto something simple, we try to place the information into categories and simplify it so that we can understand it.
Learn about simplicity while dining
Imagine you are at a restaurant and instead of seeing the appetizers in one group, the drinks in another group, the entrees in another group and so on — the restaurant has made the decision to mix the appetizers, drinks, and entrees all together on the menu. The first thing you do is look for all the drinks among the other items on the menu to group them together and make your choice. Then you do the same with the appetizers and entrees. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?
Our brains like to consume information as simply as possible because our brains are lazy.
Fortunately for us, restaurants have recognized this shortcoming of our brains and they have categorized their menus to make our dining experience as effortless as possible.
Just like restaurant menus, you must communicate as simply as possible. You want to show others “Yes, I’ve listened to what you’ve said and this is what I understood.” There’s an incredible amount of trust that is built when someone knows that you are not only listening to them but that you understand what they are saying and you can articulate it back to them.
How do you build trust?