At Work, We All Create “Fake News”…
We often give excessive credit to individuals who have the strongest presence: Those, for example, who are the most extraverted or express themselves with great self-confidence. But their loudness is not always synonymous with expertise.
In fact, research from the University of Utah and Idaho State University has shown that teams who take the time to sort out workhorses from showhorses perform better in problem solving than those that don’t.
Another study reported that, when all members of a group identify who among them is an expert on a given subject, they trust his/her judgment in only 62% of cases. The rest of the time, they rely on the advice of the most extraverted person. A third experiment determined that people’s air time is a stronger indicator of perceived influence than their actual expertise.
Our inaccurate perception of the expertise of others results from the functioning of our brain: Permanently confronted with an excessive number of stimuli, it is always looking for simplicity in order to preserve its resources for its most critical tasks, first and foremost our protection against any kind of threat.
When an individual expresses themselves more powerfully than others, they capture our attention. Eager for simplification, our brain often does not make the effort to assess whether the loudness of said individual is commensurate with their expertise. It relies on appearances. Therefore, we convey information and arguments that are without merit. By doing so, we create risks for our employer.
Philosopher Alain1’s famous admonition thus takes on a new dimension: It is even in our unconscious that our thoughts must say no to themselves.
1 Emile Chartier.