Why your lazy monkey-brain will make it all okay

Your brain is lazy. It likes easy. It pretends it’s all clever and stuff, hanging around in meetings with other brains, using long words and pretending it cares. All the time it’s thinking “when is it time to talk about me”, “ooh my pen is shiny” and “where is the chocolate?”*.

*this might just be me

Think you've bitten off too much?

Think you've bitten off too much?

The key to getting your clients to listen to you is to make everything violently easy to understand. The not so pretty word for this is “salience”. The best sales pitches tend to whittle the boring out and just concentrate on the client.


We’re all naturally geared to do what’s easy. And also not to think about it too hard. We’re also wired to LIE to ourselves, which is quite funny. Not just convincing yourself those extra pounds fill out your wrinkles, either. No matter what happens to you, good or bad, you’ll rationalise it was all for the best. There’s a fun talk on this which explains all the science.

But what does this mean at work?

Well the first thing is this – you’re going to rationalise that anything bad that happened at work was for the best. That tyrant boss, well they taught you how to handle working for a b*stard. Those stupidly long hours, that reminded you to take care of your health. Those months/years/decades spent doing that detail-heavy job that you were dreadful at, well that just made you realise…working for someone else sucks - and if you're still there, well -

If you’re going to be unhappy, at least do it on your own terms*

*I mean QUIT. Really. Now. Email me, I’ll write your resignation**.

**but first, watch this monkey hissy fit

What will happen if I worry less?

2/3/5 years from now you’ll have convinced yourself you did the right thing anyway! Which is why lottery winners end up just as happy as they were prior to the windfall. It’s also why people who have undergone horrific injuries, such as losing their legs, tell reporters it was the “best thing that ever happened” to them. Your monkey brain tells lies.

Is that true?

Studies of the depressed tell us that they differ from the happy people in one very simple way – they actually see the world more accurately. They are better at predicting risk. This is because a depressed brain is sick. Happiness is a survival trait and living, it appears, requires a healthy dose of optimism.

So what about dealing with clients? Make it easy for them. Be realistic about what they can achieve if they use your services/hire you to be their monkey. Optimism will fill in the blanks. This is the epitome of under-promise and over-deliver. It’s why it’s so effective. People will naturally assume that it’s all going to go well and meet the deadline.

Under-sell and deliver simplicity.

Build in a buffer.

It sounds easy? It surprisingly isn’t.

Because you’re too optimistic.

Good. Me too. But there's always help for that!

The final word goes to Rory Sutherland with this iconic tweet:


The item most frequently purchased at supermarkets is the banana. Darwin could have saved a lot of hassle if he'd just had some [point of sale] data.

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