I am Blagovesta Kostova. I’m a PhD student at EPFL in the group of Prof. Alain Wegmann.

blagovesta.pirelli at epfl.ch
30 January 2018

No Mind Reading


Remember how relieved you were that no one could read your mind the last time you weren’t overly happy about your colleague crossing you. Well, guess what? You are absolutely right!

Nobody can read your mind!

-- Basically Anyone

This includes both the thoughts you’d prefer not sharing but also the ones you really want to express.

For any PhD student, this truth has been painfully re-confirmed, when we try to explain any idea we have to our advisors. In the software industry engineers, customers, managers fail to communicate the basics of almost any project.

What can we do about it? We can:

  1. Speak out loud the things we believe everybody knows.
  2. Write these thoughts down to find the structure in them.

Most importantly, we communicate the verbal and written artifacts of our thoughts with others to receive feedback!

The first part of communication is to create something to be communicated with others. Put it out there, let people hear you, read you, see you. It is scary because there comes the second part - you, as a creator, have to listen to the audience and hear their perspective over what you thought was a perfect embodiment of your thoughts.  Ouch! It’s gonna hurt. Our ego will make us cringe at the unfair comments. The artist, the engineer, the smart kid in us won’t let us be open to hear “you suck!”

Tough luck but only hearing the unfavourable allows us to grow. Not all feedback is constructive, and most of the times people comment mindlessly on what they receive. So don’t take it personally. Your mind still has a lot to contribute. But the presentation form has to be shaped and listening to emotionally painful but valuable feedback is what grows us.

And don’t worry, even if you utter a couple of swear words in your head in the process. No body can read your mind, anyway.