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A Visual Solution to the Illusion of Agreement

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Here’s a common cause of frustration in the workplace: You describe what you’d like an employee to do; they seemingly understand and agree to undertake the task. A week later, the employee has missed the mark completely, and they’re confused as to why you’re upset. Many managers might blame this on miscommunication, or think their employee just wasn’t listening. This can cause strife and frustration, and lead to discouraged workers and losses in productivity. However, it’s rare that an employee simply disregards their manager’s explicit instructions, or doesn’t listen to them in the first place out of malice. What might be happening is something called the illusion of agreement. Here’s how it works: The manager has something in their head. The employee has something in their head. Both employee and manager think they are thinking the same thing, but in reality they are looking at two different scenes. When faced with this potential problem, it can be helpful to create something visual. Rather than having the manager and employee simply describe what they want, they should draw it out. Even if their idea is rough, a visual representation can help prevent the potential pitfalls of the illusion of agreement.

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