As humans, we’re a hierarchical species. In the majority of our interactions, there’s an explicitly stated or implicitly assumed power structure that governs the dynamics of the interaction.
However, in addition to differences in our relative power, there are also differences in our relative knowledge about an issue. And these dimensions are generally negatively correlated.
Specifically, the more power you have, the more things you tend to be responsible for. As a result, you can’t be as immersed into any one thing as someone with less power. So the person with less power often has more knowledge about the issue than the person with more power.
If you’re in a position of power, you benefit from setting aside your powerful status to draw out as much knowledge as you can from your more knowledgeable counterpart.
If you’re in a position of knowledge, you benefit from setting aside your hierarchical instincts to make the important contributions that you are positioned to provide to your more powerful counterpart.
Also published on Medium.