Interpersonal Relationships: Is Knowledge A Curse?

Interpersonal Relationships: Is Knowledge A Curse?

‘Curse of knowledge’, a phenomenon in which the assumption is that, others would also know something that we know, which is one out of the ordinary mistaken assumptions that are not generally talked about but can be observed in the communication pattern. This occurs as it is hard for us to imagine others not knowing things which we know. As the word describes itself, ‘knowledge’ has cursed us with this assumption. In any kind of relationship, the ‘curse of knowledge’ plays a detrimental role. May it be a professional relationship or personal relationship, this assumption can lead to very unhealthy dynamics and undesirable patterns of interaction.

Family plays a major role in any individuals’ life and tends to influence the family members in most of the aspects namely values, beliefs, norms, respect, love, affection, care, etc. For most of the individuals, family is first point of communication. And hence, this kind of phenomena of ‘curse of knowledge’ is most likely to occur in such settings. However, it also occurs in professional settings. But the likeliness of it having a detrimental consequence is higher in family or marital relationships.

Considering a family context or a marital context, this can be viewed as a major source of conflict leading to unwholesome consequences. This is one of the prime misapprehension that most of us often fall prey to in our day-to-day interaction. Misinterpretations, miscommunications and misperceptions can be gauged as key reasons for any kind of conflict in the relationships. These can be viewed to be stemming from ‘Curse of Knowledge’. In a family, when members start assuming that others also understand what they intend to communicate, somewhere they don’t entirely use the concrete language and stories to put across their message. Hence, it becomes likely for the recipients of the message to misinterpret or misunderstand and considering that, they may also not communicate their concerns mistaking the same assumption or just take it as an ultimatum to their sentiments. Sometimes family members assume that they understand their children’s needs better and make major life decisions on their behalf. However, due to factors like conservativeness or rigid belief system, many a times they tend to overlook the happiness of their children and force them to abide to their demands. There are instances where families even take drastic measures of emotionally exhausting their children and impelling them to their expectations. This, in long-term is very detrimental as lives of their children who are individual beings is put at stake, which can cause distress or pathological conditions. Hence, it is always advisable for family members especially elders of the family to not assume that what they know is also known by others as sometimes their analysis can also be wrong. This kind of communication or interaction pattern mostly leads to discord eventually encumbering in disengaged relationships. Even in marriage, it is important to ensure that the communication between the partners is free from any kind of presumptions and healthy boundaries are maintained. Such assumptions can often cause couples to fight more and raise issues related to infidelity, fights related to financial issues, extended family related issues, etc. As partners rely more on each other than on other members of family and as their relationship forms the foundation for their future familial prospects, it is important that they derive satisfaction of the bond that is shared between them, which relies on the healthy interaction pattern. Hence, it is important that the couples avoid being subjected to ‘curse of knowledge’, otherwise it can disrupt the dynamics of the relationship and lead to distressed or dysfunctional family.

In eastern culture, wisdom of elders is always emphasized but nevertheless, it is important that people realize that the existence of members in family as independent individual being who can also have values or belief system different from theirs and as ones who understand what they need as its their life. It is very essential to maintain healthy boundaries in any kind of relationship. Sometimes, due to differences in generation and dynamically varying belief systems, there are certain aspects which people confuse others to understand and overlook that there is possibility of others not understanding them. The design of this phenomena is such that it is very difficult for people to understand that others may not know or understand what they do. But nevertheless, it is important to realize this by the people in family and adapt accordingly. However, people can be made to understand situations from the other person’s perspectives through the use of concrete language and stories that communicate their message effectively.     

Communication is considered as key to healthy relationships. It is always important to ensure that concrete language is used for the interaction. This would help a relationship foster better and avoid any kind of enmeshed or disengaged pattern in family. Hence, couples or family members should ensure the usage of concrete language or usage of stories to communicate and clearly put forward their message with the underlying intentions being expressed. Considering all the aspects, it is crucial that people become aware of this phenomena of ‘Curse of Knowledge’ and avoid falling prey to it, but rather work on establishing nourishing and caring healthy relationships. This would further determine the life satisfaction of such individuals and help foster a better community health.

About the Author

Sharmistha Mondal
Student.

I'm currently pursuing a career in Mental health profession. I have completed my undergraduation in BSc. Psychology Honors and at present doing MSc

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