Even if a co-worker says he’s absolutely positive that he’s right, don’t accept such assurances blindly. Psychologists have found that the more convinced we are of our knowledge, the wider the gap between what we truly know and what we think we know. In one experiment reported in Money magazine (January 1997), subjects were asked which is longer, the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal, and how sure they were that they were right. Among those who they said were 90 percent certain, only 65 percent were right. Among those who were 60 percent certain, only 50 percent got the right answer. The results reveal how often we overestimate what we know, which can lead to misunderstandings and team divisiveness. It’s safer and smarter to demand evidence so that you don’t have to rely on mere assertions of correctness.
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