Do we have the "curse of knowledge?"

OK let’s admit it. In our heart of hearts, we think we have THE product, or THE opportunity. Why isn’t everyone flocking to our doorstep?

After all, WE saw it, so why don’t THEY?

This dilemma is called “the curse of knowledge.”

Here’s an experiment that brings home the pain:

“Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called “tappers,” a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to the rhythm of the chosen tune as they thought about it in their heads. A second set of people, called “listeners,” were asked to name the songs.

“Before the experiment began, the tappers were asked how often they believed that the listeners would name the songs correctly. On average, tappers expected listeners to get it right about half the time. In the end, however, listeners guessed only 3 of 120 songs tapped out, or 2.5 percent.

“The tappers were astounded. The song was so clear in their minds; how could the listeners not “hear” it in their taps?”

That’s a common reaction when experts set out to share their ideas in the business world, too… –more here

In case you thought it was you…now you know better. As the piece states, the trick is the language used in the presentation.

Learn the language to let the world help you get customer matches, “If My Product’s So Great, How Come I Can’t Sell it?” or the Customer-gathering 3-Scripts CD program here.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Too many times people leave out little things in the comp plan or Policies when explaining the company to others. I don’t think it’s intentional, but it’s done every day. We are familiar with the way things work so we forget that others are not.

    I teach classes, so I am used to breaking things down in easy bites, however, my upline is not. We’ll be on a call and he will have me do the breakdown into “layman’s terms” for people.

    When you’re explaining your opportunity, people who have never been in network marketing don’t know what you mean by downline, sponsor, upline, cycle, flushing volume, balancing legs, etc… You need to find a simple way to explain it in terms that people will understand.

    I always assumed that because I told people our payplan pays weekly that they would just know that pay qualifications are based on a week. That’s easy for non-network marketers to grasp, however some network marketers have a real hart time understanding it.

    Listen to or look at what is in place for you to explain how you make money in your company. If it’s filled with “mlm terms” and a 12 year old wouldn’t understand it, think of redoing it in simple terms, getting it approved by the company and posting it on a website where you can direct people to. Kim, Tom “Big Al” Schreiter, Michael Dlouhy and a number of other top network marketing trainers teach us to simply figure out what you need to do to make a certain amount each month. Figure that out and put it in simple terms.

    For example, I have an audio I made into a video where I explain how someone can sell 6 boxes of our new energy drink in a week and earn $100. People understand that. It’s simple language.

    And don’t say “move X amount of product” but “sell x amount” or “have X amount of people ordering X amount each month”


  • Kim,

    That is an interesting post that show us how inaccurate that we perceive our outocme of communication.

    So what are the variable in presentation?

    May be language is only one of the variable

  • This idea of knowledge being a curse clicked for me immediately as I realize this every time I talk with a prospect. Yes I would say that most in MLM do have the curse of knowledge. It comes with being apssionate about what we do. I know so much about my business and products and my prospect knows next to nothing. Hmmm…how to gracefully fill that void…?

    A quick aside after reading the whole article. I went to the other day and was happy that the language level of my blog was secondary/high school. That tells me I am doing a decent job expressing myself there without jargon and catch phrases that are meaningless to my readers. It is easy and free to use

    I wonder if most here spend a lot of time talking about product specifics or more spend more time connecting on a personal level? I only talk about products when asked, I point to our extensive team FAQ, which is a pdf file that I can email, when someone is really wanting all the facts, and I hope I do a good job of connecting with them on a personal level, which to me is of the ultimate importance. After all if they join my business we will be working closely together, hopefully for a long time.


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