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2 Times When it’s Stupid to be Dumb

You probably work on things with other people. Each of them with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

They know stuff that you don’t know. And you know stuff that they don’t know.

Which leads us to the two places where you can’t afford to be stupid:

1) when you are learning from them, and
2) when they are learning from you.

Insist on understanding.

When you are listening to them, ask questions.

You don’t have a “dumb” question. You have a question. The act of not asking that question is dumb. That’s a poor choice, and you should avoid it.

You might worry about “looking dumb” by asking a seemingly simple question that probably has an answer that is obvious to everyone else.

That might be true. But it’s probably not. Because everyone else is trying to get an understanding of things too. Your question probably helps them too.

You know what looks really dumb, though? Working on something when you don’t understand it as clearly as you need to. Putting a lot of energy into going the wrong direction because you didn’t care to get a complete grasp of things.

Think about this for a minute…

What looks smart?

How about the person that demonstrates a level of curiosity that shows that they are fully engaged and really care?

How about the person who insists on a level of clarity so that they can make a good contribution to the project?

That’s the kind of smart person you want on your team.

But Don’t Be A Smart Ass

Let’s look at this the other way too.

When you have the expertise, experience, or knowledge and you are bringing others up to speed, do you help the educate them?

That’s probably a good idea. Because that’s how you can be effective.

Your job isn’t to “dumb down” anything.

If you are the person with more knowledge of the details and concepts, then you may need to create little building blocks of understanding for the other person.

That’s teaching.

It’s not dumb. It’s smart.

Glossing over that opportunity is stupid. Because others can’t help you achieve success if you don’t help them to understand what’s important.

Think about this for a minute…

Who looks smart?

The person who smugly glosses over things that are important without really caring whether anyone understands them? The person who is impatient and annoyed as they explain things quickly and curtly?

Or the person who knows the information so well that they can explain it in simple terms? The person who really wants you to understand what they are trying to explain?

Which person would you want on your team?

Clarity is Awesome

Clarity leads to results.

When it’s your time to learn, don’t be dumb. Seek to understand.

When it’s your time to teach, don’t be dumb. Seek to share and teach.

Lots of problems could be avoided and lots of time could be saved.