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Here’s Why You Should Play Dumb When You Meet Someone New

My sister has one of those wall art stickers in her room at our parents’ house. It’s a quote from Kurt Tucholsky:

If you’re reading this, I can tell that you’re smart already. Dumb people don’t read. At best, they read TMZ. But not Medium.

This gift, however — the ability to play dumb — I think we’re not using often enough. And not quite the right way. Here’s an example where feinting stupidity really helps. Not to get out of an unpleasant situation. But to be a better person.

When you meet someone new and they start talking about a topic you know everything about, let them finish.

Don’t hijack the conversation, just because you can. Yes, it’s great that they care about the same stuff you do. Yes, you can contribute a lot here.

But that doesn’t mean they might not know a thing or two you don’t.

Scenario 1: Boy meets girl.

Girl: I actually know quite a bit about cars. My favorite is the 997 Porsche Turbo S, that was a great model…

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Boy cuts her off: …yeah totally, I love that car, man, 530 hp, 700 Nm, and geez, the launch time, 3.3 seconds!

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Girl: Mmhmm! *nods politely but dies a bit inside*

Scenario 2: Boy meets girl.

Girl: I actually know quite a bit about cars. My favorite is the 997 Porsche Turbo S, that was a great model…

*Boy draws breath, but then just closes his mouth*

Girl: …not only because of the insane hp and torque, but also because it was their fastest production car ever! Porsche claimed its 0–60 time to be 3.3 seconds in the brochure, but most magazines actually measured it with a 2.6.

Oh and I just love that test on Top Gear where they pit the convertible against a VW Beetle, falling from the sky. That’s one of the funniest “races” I’ve ever seen:

Boy:

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Talking is easy. Listening is a virtue.

Every single person you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t.

Play dumb and you might find: in a way, we all still are.

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