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“Chunking”: The Real Secret to Effective Communication

Ever notice that sometimes people don’t communicate  well? 

One of the main culprits is a specific limitation of the human brain.

To illustrate, take a look at these numbers for a sec and then close your eyes and try to remember them all:

1 – 8 – 0 – 0 – 5 – 5 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 5 – 7


Can you recall all of them after just a couple of seconds?

Yeah, me neither.

Apparently, only one in a hundred people can do it. 

If you’re one of them, that must nice and I’m not jealous at all.

If you remembered 4-6 of the numbers, you’re like most humans. 

Your brain quickly captures an “image” of the four chunks of information or so and places them into working memory for only a few seconds.

If you want to hack this, you can chunk the numbers this way: 1-800-554-5657. But, even then, unless you have a good reason to remember the number, you’ll probably forget it within 20 seconds. (If it was the hotline for free bags of gold with big dollar signs on them like in cartoons, your brain will magically do much better.)

A trimmed hedge partially obscuring a "do not" sign, with the playful response "oh i think i will" added at the bottom, hinting at a real secret through this effective communication.

Now take a minute to imagine how many words are said in a normal conversation. 

More than 4-6 words, eh?
We often retain only the most unimportant of those chunks.

So, when you’re talking to someone about something important, keep in mind that they, like you, can only remember a few key words. 

You don’t have many bullets in the revolver, so take aim. 

Be brief, keep it under 10 words, and listen to their response as if it means a lot to you.

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Comments (1)

excellent advice i need to remind myself daily!

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