Brain and communication as a simplification trap: 10 tips against drawer thinking

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In times of Trump, AfD and polemical social media shitstorms, it is becoming clearer and simpler: simplifications are the trend. More and more people are looking for simple solutions in an increasingly complex world. But our brains trick us. Best of HR –®

Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


Simplification and its consequences

People tend to generalize their own point of view and think in categories. The fault is the brain, which wants to process information as quickly as possible. But the penchant for economic simplification has disadvantages, because sometimes life is not so easy.

Where this can lead was shown in many places in social media, especially in shitstorms, in the political debate and in the electoral success of populist politicians like Trump or the AfD.

Drawer thinking - where it comes from

"The colleague is always so rude!" “The weather is always bad!” or "I made a mistake - I am completely incapable!" - these are sentences that many people probably think several times a day:

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You have a bad experience or a negative experience repeats itself - like the colleague who didn't greet you twice in the hallway. But instead of saying: "Well, she's having a bad day a few times", many people generalize such events and the colleague becomes an unfriendly bitch.

The brain is lazy!

I have described the reason for this in detail in my book “The 110% Lie”: It can be found in the brain. A multitude of stimuli storms on people every day. The brain only absorbs a small part of this mass of sensory impressions. Not accidentally, however: the brain primarily selects information that it can incorporate into existing thought patterns.

In plain English: What we perceive is very much influenced by our convictions, our previous experiences, attitudes and interests. In addition, stimuli that trigger strong emotions are processed faster and better than information that you are not emotionally involved with.

People pick up selectively!

So what people remember is by no means objective but very selective. If the brain did not work so economically, it could not cope with all the stimuli - the human being would simply be overwhelmed.

It is therefore, in certain limits, even to simplify and generalize meaningfully. This allows you to process new information more quickly than if you were trying to really take into account all aspects - after all, it is very important in the job that you are able to correctly assess new situations or other people.

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Beware of prejudices!

However, problems always arise when prejudices settle in the minds in this way: if, for example, nice gestures The always so unfriendly colleague no longer perceives and firmly believes in what one persuades himself in this way. Or if every little mistake already has a complete failure in mind.

Then only helps to check your own expectations and to look at things a little more differentiated. And with a little practice, that can also succeed!

10 tips against drawer thinking

Faster than you think, you have categorized things or put people in drawers. Reason for this: Our brain is lazy and wants to work as economically as possible. But this can make everything unnecessarily harder. 10 Tips on how to limit the exercise of exaggerated drawer thinking:

  1. No generalized vocabulary! Do words like “never” or “always” appear frequently in your vocabulary? Avoid such vocabulary in thinking and talking - the first step to a more differentiated perspective
  2. Consider each event individually: Just because the colleague did not greet you yesterday and today, she does not always have to do that. Maybe she was just stressed?
  3. Examine Expectations: Do not you expect a thing like that? Check if they do not already have prejudices.
  4. Change Settings: Some things you can not change. With a positive attitude to the matter, however, much is easier.
  5. Do not categorize: Especially when getting to know new people, we like to put them in drawers. Take a closer look and review your initial assessment, if necessary.
  6. Split problem into single problems: Often one sees one, because one generalizes, only a large problem mountain. Solve problems in small individual problems that will solve you step by step.
  7. Perceive intermediate tones: You can evaluate a situation with extremes, such as “absolutely successful” or “an absolute disaster”. But if you also perceive the intermediate tones like “funny”, “ok” or “not bad”, you have a much broader spectrum.
  8. Outwit your brain: Your brain wants to work economically and only selectively perceives. Outsmart it by deliberately focusing on aspects that may not immediately catch your eye.
  9. Change habits step by step: Of course, you will not immediately succeed in changing old habits. Take your time: Change your attitude step by step.
  10. Write it down: Any changes that affect your habits will help to write them down to help you understand your attitude and progress.

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  1. Iris

    Unfortunately, how quickly our brain simplifies is often underestimated. You can see in politics every day how important the topic is.

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