What I mean by this is that what we expect other people to be capable of is based on what we think we’re capable of ourselves. For example, I believe I know a ton about computers, both hardware and software. A little about Macs, but a lot about Windows. Whenever I talk to someone else about computers, I initially expect they know as much, or less, than I do about computers. So when we’re talking I “dumb down” the language until someone tells me “yeah, got it, I know that.”
I also overhear people who need need a few months to come up to speed on a new project. It just takes a while to understand the client, what the application should be doing, and how everything works. When that same person meets with someone new to the project, they expect that the new person knows less than they do about the project, and that it will take a long time to get the same understanding that the experienced person now has. That experienced person is really surprised when the newbie took their previous experience, did their own research, and now has an understanding equal to the experienced person in only a few days.
What would happen if we all went into conversations expecting more from the other person than we expect from ourselves?
We sure don’t want to push someone over the edge. For all you know, you really are the smartest person in the world about how to marinate green peppers stuffed with ground arugula and pigeon meat, so you can’t expect someone else to be better.
How much would someone’s self-image improve if we all met them for the first time expecting them to be better than ourselves. What if we told the person that? Don’t make yourself look stupid, just make the other person look smart.
Stop expecting someone to be less capable, or know less than you. Change your own expectations of others, and they’ll change theirs as well.