FAULT: Misunderstanding Others

Whether it’s at the gym or not, much of your ability to move through life is tethered to your ability to navigate how you interact with people. Evidence is mounting that we are particularly poor at managing how we deal with people we don’t know. 

I’d like to give you the Cliff’s Notes on a concept we’ll articulated by legendary writer, Macolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s latest text, Talking to Strangers, progresses this notion that how our inability to ping pong off of people we don’t know very well has an important impact. I don’t need to explain how our inability to connect with others and how misunderstanding the human beings in our life can negatively affect all of us.

Getting the root of how and why this happens may be helpful. Gladwell shares a remarkable phenomenon observed in an experiment originally executed by Emily Pronin and a group of psychologists that shows how we make assumptions about others that we specifically don’t make about ourselves. 

Emily and her team gave participants partial words (like the ones in the image to the right) to complete. When participants filled them out quickly, without much thought to say things like “SCARE” and “PAIN” and “BEAT” and “GORE” they were interviewed. They were asked, “Does this exercise reveal anything about your inner psychology?” Basically, could this mean you’re violent, angry, or dark. And, nearly all of the participants attributed their answers to being random and insignificant. 

When the participants were shown completed answers by others, however, they often reported that the men and women filling in the words must say something about who they really are. This is a clear double standard and indicative of the notion that we poorly make sense of strangers. 

If our judgements of others often leave us to misunderstand them and we’re going to be interacting with we don’t know well at the gym, at work, and milling about our lives, we ought to lead with this awareness first. Claim ignorance before confidence in your judgements. Leave a margin to learn more, be wrong, and relate better. We’ll all be better for it. And, thank you to the brilliant Malcom Gladwell for writing provocative, important books. 

Logan Gelbrich  


1/23/20 WOD

Complete 4 rounds for time:

400m Run

12 Kettlebell Swings (70/53)

6 Pull-Ups

-Rest 2 minutes-