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Simplicity Principle


Principles > Simplicity Principle

Principle | How it works | So what?


Simple things are easy to understand, accept and agree.

How it works

People often take the 'path of least resistance', making decisions based on what seems easy rather than that which is most logical.

So make things easy to understand by careful simplification. Especially if things are complex, take time to find ways of communicating the ideas in ways that the other person will.


Using jargon, big words and complex structures may make something seem important but it also makes is more difficult to understand.

  • Metaphor or analogy can be used to simplify ideas by showing what they are like.
  • Shorter sentences requires the person to spend less time remembering what was said and decoding the structure.


Simplification can be achieved simply by showing or doing less. Talk less. Show them fewer alternatives. Make the idea more stand-alone with less associations. Reduce time, space, actions and people to make plan more straightforward.


Sometimes things can be made easier to understand by moving things around into configurations that make more sense. You can move things in time as well as space. You can change who does what, where people go, when things happen and so on.


Sometimes things can be made easier by throwing away what you currently have and using something else that is easier to understand or accept.


A common acronym that is used as an admonition in many domains is 'KISS'. This, rather rudely, stands for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid!' More politely, it sometimes is interpreted as 'Keep It Short and Simple.'

The KISS principle is a useful thought to hold in any communication.

So what?

When seeking to change minds, start with how the other person understands, then simplify such that you only have that which will persuade, and that this will be optimally tuned for the person in question.

Note also that complexity can be a persuasive principle, using confusion to create uncertainty which you then address.

See also

Diffusion, Metaphor, Easy Principle


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