Cognitive load is real | Seth’s Blog:

Here’s my list, in order, of what drives behavior in the modern, privileged world:

  • Fear
  • Cognitive load (and the desire for habit and ease)
  • Greed (fueled by fear)
  • Curiosity
  • Generosity/connection

The five are in an eternal dance, with capitalist agents regularly using behavioral economics to push us to trade one for the other. We’re never satisfied, of course, which is why our culture isn’t stable. We regularly build systems to create habits that lower the cognitive load, but then, curiosity amplified by greed and fear (plus our search for connection and desire to love) kick in and the whole cycle starts again.

I like Seth’s set up for this but not the corporate entity as the example. Here’s a sanitised version:

…without habits, every decision requires attention. And attention is exhausting.

And it’s stressful because the choices made appear to be expensive. There’s a significant opportunity cost to doing this not that. … what are you going to skip? What if it’s not worth the [time or wait]? What are you missing?

It’s all fraught. We feel the failure of a bad choice in advance, long before we discover whether or not it was actually bad.

What consistently good communicators do:

What consistently good communicators do: Prepare thoroughly, show up on time, seek to understand, be thoughtful about their contributions, pay attention to non-verbal cues, and follow up.

When they do all of this, they succeed in reaching the people they’re speaking to in the right context – unerringly.

It turns out that being a consistently good communicator is largely determined by what we do when we’re not trying to communicate.

This post came out a while ago. I was reminded to write about it when I saw the 16 April Daily Stoic entry, OBSERVE CAUSE AND EFFECT:

“Pay close attention in conversation to what is being said, and to what follows from any action. In the action, immediately look for the target, in words, listen closely to what’s being signaled.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.4

To both quotes, there is an undercurrent of presence, of being in the moment when communicating. Being distracted by a laptop, tablet, or phone takes away from that presence.

The other undercurrent is that communication is, by definition, bidirectional (or full duplex for the networking nerds out there). It’s funny to me how many people forget that.