Be the dumbest person in the room..
It started back in grade school. The last person you wanted to be was the dumbest person in the room. If you were, you were totally made fun of. Ever since then, we make almost every effort to make sure we look smart, sound intelligent, and be proud. I’m here to tell you the complete opposite.
For years, I would find myself over talking, cutting people off, disagreeing (even if we were saying the same thing), defending arguments and saying “I know” over and over. Or worse, responding with “no no, you don’t understand.” What I realized is that I wasn’t learning. So then I took the “I’m not going to say a word” approach and decided to sit quiet, smile, and just listen. Again, I wasn’t learning. The problem with just listening was that, either no one was talking or the conversation veered quickly to gossip and world events. There is nothing I can learn from gossip and there is not much I can do about world events.
I knew that beyond the gossip and the world news, there is knowledge and experience that others have that I don’t, and I wanted to figure out a way to capture that. So I started to ask. I started to ask others about their story. Anytime the conversation started to veer to gossip or world events, I could engineer the conversation away by asking a question to someone else in the room. I started to admit comfortably and freely that “I do not know.” And with that, I positioned myself as the dumbest person in the room void of pride. This absence of pride was the secret ingredient. There is some weird human ability to identify pride. And when it’s not in your questioning, something amazing happens. Others are not only willing, but delighted to share their story. And from their story, I learned.
If you are smart enough to be the dumbest person in the room, others will share their knowledge and experiences with you. Learning from others is a critical life skill.