Decisions, Communication, & Influence (Alexandria #038)

The best content related to design, psychology, and productivity.
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Adam Sadowski
4 min readMar 29, 2022

Be Aware of Your Decision

“In 1981, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman explored how different phrasing affected participants’ responses to a choice in a hypothetical life and death situation. In the study, participants were asked to choose between two treatments for 600 people affected by a deadly disease. Treatment A was predicted to result in 400 deaths, whereas treatment B had a 33% chance that no one would die but a 66% chance that everyone would die.

This choice was then presented to participants either with positive framing, i.e. how many people would live or with negative framing, i.e. how many people would die. Treatment A was chosen by 72% of participants when it was presented with positive framing (“saves 200 lives”) dropping to 22% when the same choice was presented with negative framing (“400 people will die”).”

Chesterton’s Fence: A Lesson in Second-Order Thinking

“Chesterton describes the classic case of the reformer who notices something, such as a fence, and fails to see the reason for its existence. However, before they decide to remove it, they must figure out why it exists in the first place. If they do not do this, they are likely to do more harm than good with its removal. In its most concise version, Chesterton’s Fence states the following: Do not remove a fence until you know why it was put up in the first place.”

Learning the Language of Influence and Persuasion

“Chance and Vincent discussed a host of other techniques for developing influence, including the “magic question,” a favorite of her students. The question is “What will it take?” and it can be posed in almost any situation. “You can ask it of any person at any time and you can even ask it of the same person repeatedly,” Chance said. “It sparks a mindset of collaborative problem-solving, which feels good to people.”

How to Speak in Public

“…From the ancient perspective, public speaking, like writing or, for that matter, military prowess, was considered an art form — teachable, learnable, and utterly unrelated to issues of innate character or emotional makeup. To them, the idea of expecting the average, speech-ignorant person to be reliably eloquent would be like expecting an untrained adolescent to perform like a seasoned warrior on the battlefield. Their take holds true today — it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be competent, much less masterful, in an art form you’ve never been taught to practice.”

Asynchronous Design Critique: Getting Feedback

“It might seem counterintuitive to start the process of receiving feedback with a question, but that makes sense if we realize that getting feedback can be thought of as a form of design research. In the same way that we wouldn’t do any research without the right questions to get the insights that we need, the best way to ask for feedback is also to craft sharp questions. As with any good research, we need to review what we got back, get to the core of its insights, and take action. Question, iteration, and review.”

Writing In Public, Inside Your Company

“A collaborative culture, reinforced by information flow, makes it possible for smart people all over a company to be in touch with each other. When you get a critical mass of high-IQ people working in concert, the energy level shoots way up. Knowledge management is a fancy term for a simple idea. You’re managing data, documents and people’s efforts. Your aim should be to enhance the way people work together, share ideas, sometimes wrangle and build on one another’s ideas–and then act in concert for a common purpose.”

The Pacenotes Edition: On Rallying, Shorthand, and High

“The more sophisticated a driver, the more detailed pacenotes he or she will want. Notes often include whether a corner opens (“<”) or closes (“>”), impacting how a driver approaches the turn. For example, a driver might accelerate into the apex of a corner that opens, knowing that there is room to slide into the exit beyond the blind spot. Bumps (Bmp), jumps (Jmp) and crests (Cr) will all be captured, and may include a note about their size (SmJmp vs BigJmp, for example). Exclamation points signal a need for caution: “!” means there’s a chance you might crash. “!!!” means that, if you crash, there is a chance you might die.”