There are few people who are comfortable with sounding stupid.

I'm not talking about comically stupid, people playing-up for a laugh. I mean people risking others thinking of them as idiots because they don't know something that someone is talking about.

Have you ever heard someone refer to something you don't know about, or use a word that you don't know the definition of, and you nod in agreement instead of admitting that you aren't sure of what they are talking about.

The truth is that we are all stupid on certain topics. There are things you don't know much about.

Maybe you know a lot about computers but know little about world history. Maybe you know lots about world history but don't know much about famous albums. Maybe you know a lot about famous albums but don't know much about international affairs. It's simply impossible to be an expert on everything, even in the age of the Internet.

Eventually you will talk with someone who has a different background or different interests to you. Perhaps they simply have a different point of view. Don't pretend to be completely up to speed with what they are saying. If they mention something you are ignorant to, ask them to explain.

Conversations aren't an excuse to assert your intelligence over someone. Instead, they are a great tool to learn something new. We can't be an expert on everything, but we can always explore new territory.

There is an old proverb suggesting "it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt". I heartily disagree with it. I prefer this proverb from Confucius: "The man who asks a question is a foll for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life."

Just because you are uninformed on the current topic of discussion, it doesn't mean you aren't intelligent overall.

If you don't know what someone is referring to, it is OK to sound ignorant. On some topics, you are. The smart response is to ask someone to explain so you will understand. Then you are no longer stupid, privately or publically. And you have learnt something too.

What have you learnt this week?

Let's Talk.