How to work with “stupid” people

On Quora today I saw a question to the effect of: How do I put up with the stupid people I inevitably find myself working with? Here’s my answer:


I consider myself reasonably intelligent, yet I have had no problem surrounding myself with people at or above my intellectual level. I’ve also had good relationships with co-workers at all levels of intelligence. Unless you’re a world-class genius (statistically unlikely), you are probably mis-diagnosing people as stupid.

I’ll assume that you’re not just lashing out at others as a defense mechanism against your own insecurities (although you need honestly ask yourself that). I’ll assume that you sincerely believe that other people are stupid, probably based on finding it difficult to discuss things and agree with them.

But what you’re really evaluating is their judgment. Differences in judgment are rarely due to stupidity—in work, in friendships or in politics. You can’t address the problem until you identify the real cause. Calling everyone “stupid” leaves you with no next steps.

Here’s a guide for what to do instead:

Before you even decide that you disagree with someone, work to understand their judgment. You may not disagree at all. For instance:

  • Do you fully understand what they’re saying? Or are you talking past each other?
  • Are you answering the same question? Maybe each of you is answering a different angle on the question (e.g., “what’s our next step?” vs. “what’s the long-term solution?”)
  • Are you using terms in the same way? Sometimes disagreements come from differing definitions and terminology.
  • Are you talking completely in abstractions? Give examples, and ask them for examples, to get clear and concrete.
  • Are you both being clear and precise in your formulations? Sometimes people phrase things loosely or talk in metaphors that aren’t meant to be taken literally.

Ask questions, make sure you understand them fully.

If you decide that you disagree, work to understand their thinking process:

  • What are the reasons for their conclusion?
  • What is their evidence? What observations or data points are they relying on?
  • What general premises or lessons do they take to be relevant? What principles, frameworks, or theories are they applying?
  • What goals and values are conditioning their approach?

Ask them (and learn to do it without threatening or intimidating them). You may change your mind through the process.

If not, at least you will understand better how to reason with them:

  • Have you seen important data that they haven’t? Maybe they missed a key fact, or they just haven’t seen the breadth or depth of data that you have. Inform them and see if they come around.
  • Do you have relevant experience that they don’t? Tell them the observations or lessons learned that lead you to your conclusion (without being didactic or condescending).
  • Are you bringing different lessons learned from different backgrounds? If so, which context applies, if either? Maybe one of you has mostly worked at startups and the other mostly at big companies. Which context is relevant here?
  • Is either of you making an unwarranted assumption? There are lessons learned and then there are “lessons” that you guessed about and forgot to validate through experience or research. If you disagree with their premises, address that directly.
  • Are you guided by different goals and values? If so, you’ll reach different solutions to a problem. Get aligned on goals before arguing about problems and solutions.
  • Do you subscribe to different relevant theories? If so, you may not be able to resolve the disagreement quickly, and may need to take another approach (e.g., pick anything reasonable and measure the outcome, or let a third party make the decision).

Throughout all of this reasoning, be aware of the emotional context:

  • Are they afraid of the conclusion? Maybe it threatens their work, their reputation, or their self-esteem. There’s no excuse for this, but it happens to everyone sometimes. Good people recognize it sooner or later and let their emotions go. Sometimes a close friend or co-worker can get them to see what’s going on by asking sympathetic questions. (Be sure to ask this question of yourself as well.)
  • Are environmental stresses degrading their judgment? Time pressure or having your career on the line can make it hard to do your best work.
  • Are they intimidated by you? If you really are smarter or better-spoken, they may be swamped by emotions of insecurity that make it hard to think. You may be unwittingly shutting them down, which begins a vicious cycle. Tone it down.

If you disagree with someone consistently over time, consider these potential cognitive and psychological problems:

  • They may have good judgment but poor communication skills. If you repeatedly find that you agree after clearing up initial miscommunication, keep this in mind and account for it. It can be frustrating and it takes patience, but it’s better than arguing and they may even appreciate it.
  • They may have raw intelligence, but poor thinking habits—patterns of absorbing, processing, and filing information. Cognitively, they aren’t set up to get to the heart of a matter, to distinguish between essential and accidental details, to form and apply valid generalizations. This too may require patience. It isn’t good, but it isn’t willful, irrational, or stupid. Concentrate on what other virtues and talents they bring to the table, such as creativity, diligence, or relationship-building.
  • They may have general insecurities that make them afraid of looking stupid or give them a psychological need to win arguments. There’s no excuse for this either, but you can sometimes work with people anyway if they don’t do this too much or too often, or hold onto it for too long.
  • They may have a problem with you personally. Maybe they’ve decided that you’re “arrogant” or obstinate. Maybe they know that you think they’re stupid and resent it. In any case, this will make them less likely to listen to you and more likely to argue with you. They may dig in their heels on a particular issue, or just discount your judgment generally. Admit that you’re part of the problem and work to change.

Bottom line: Stupidity explains only a small percentage of people’s disagreements. Calling someone “stupid” is a dead end—you can’t fix it. Instead, figure out what’s really going on.

Some final advice for the workplace:

  • Make sure you’re working in an environment that promotes objective decisions. If decisions are made based on personality and emotions instead of data and discussion, it will make everyone “stupid”. Go somewhere else.
  • Choose your battles. You don’t have to get your way in every disagreement. Let other people own their work. Fight only on the decisions that are important and hard to reverse.
  • Earn a reputation over time through excellent work. This is much more powerful in commanding attention than intellectual prowess.

I didn’t realize I had so much to say on this topic until I started writing the answer. Quora is doing a great job at getting people to write on topics they never would have otherwise—even folks like me who keep blogs.

  • katherinelevine

    Thank you Jason, posted your link this on my Emotional FItness Blog. Well done. I often point out to those that complain about another's stupidity that it might be they are so smart, so long as not smart-a– they should be able to figure the other person's thinking out.

  • Anne

    Misunderstanding are very common in international communication. The words used are the same, but the meaning and expectations behind can be miles from your own.
    Thanks

  • Anon

    This whole article seems pretty stupid…

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  • the reader

    you are stupid

  • 640226

    TRYING TO WORK WITH PEOPLE ON DIFFERENT WAYS, SOMETIMES IS IMPOSIBLE BECAUSE PEOPLE THINK DIFFERENT ONE TO ANOTHERS.

  • totallytotallyamazing

    This is a great article!!! It is part of the human condition to be stupid since none of us are born with the data and experiences we gain in our short lives. How quickly we understand and tolerate things is perhaps the true measure of intelligence. Is this why understanding people have more inner peace and happiness? if someone is lazy or has a mental illness that forces their tortured ego to lash out at others in a counter productive – smokescreen-ish way then they are and should be dealt with as a liability.

  • http://laroquod.tumblr.com Paul Laroquod

    “Differences in judgment are rarely due to stupidity.”

    While I appreciate the spirit of this article and generally agree, the quoted statement cannot be true. If it were, there would be little or no evolutionary pressure for us to get smarter. If it doesn't improve our judgement in how we act and interact, then what good is it? Why does humankind have such big brains if it so rarely came into play in actual survival and reproduction outcomes, which all require judgement?

  • Sina

    So you're saying there's no such thing as a stupid person? I agree that miscommunication plays a great role in disagreements, but believe me, stupid people also do exist, and they're of two types:
    1. Those who are born stupid, meaning that they just have an IQ level of lower than the average people.
    2. Those who have grown stupid, meaning that they do have the talent, but for whatever reason, they often just don't use it.

    • Rackshom

      It’s not a refusal to utilize it, it’s a learned behavioral trait that makes such utilization unnecessary. You learn to think from only your own perspective, and not to consider other perspectives, you learn that once a conclusion makes sense, it is conclusively correct, despite the fact that it only makes sense in a specific set of cases, meaning it isn’t 100% accurate yet. It is not that they do not utilize their intelligence, it is that they have adopted a system that doesn’t need to. I will assume you play videogames, and know what I’m talking about. It is like how you can run Crysis 2 on an Alienware computer, but you can also run DOOM. The intelligent attitude is symbolized by Crysis, and the stupid attitude is symbolized by DOOM. However, the Alienware is a person with a higher IQ, and a dumber person, (an original dell computer, let’s say from the early 1990’s), can run DOOM but not Crysis. The Alienware has much more power, but DOOM is a simple program and does not need more processing power. A smart person can easily take a retarded attittude.

    • http://derpanese.myopenid.com/ Derpanede

      3. Those who have grown too much confidence in themselves, in their aptitudes and what they think.

  • nemtyrevs

    It`s strange but I work with them everyday.
    But what to say about people who doesn`t want to work http://www.sproperties.ru

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  • http://www.authorityseo.com authorityseo

    a client had a programmer who caused the websites rankings to plummet in SERP, no matter if it was his judgment or intelligence he is still stupid

    though I do want to say that I find what works for me is that I first take the point of view what if the person you are arguing with believes as strong as you do about what he or she is talking about

  • VoodooKid

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  • http://deepank.blogspot.com Deepank Gupta

    Very comprehensive post … and great value points to …

    Mostly these points can be taken up as questions and further points in discussion whenever you are in an argument with someone….

  • http://annetheagile.myopenid.com/ AnneTheAgile

    I wonder if this excellent post has received so many replies because it is confusingly similar to answering the question but actually does not? The post answers how Jason has learned never to think of people as stupid. However, a number of posters note that it is a statistical fact for almost all of we who post to blogs that some people are “stupider” based on some single measure which may affect a work team.

    The solution to to that particular problem is division of labor. Knowing someone who can't do what I do, who can only do less, is a great boon in a free market. I can hire that person so I can be free to do more of the work I'm more uniquely suited to do. I offload those things my partner can handle.

    There are lots of times people's productivity on a given task vary by 10:1. I have been very proud to be a “1” to people who are “10” on some tasks, Jason included! Lol.

  • Andreas

    Great article, i particularly liked your explanation regarding the level of intelligence one is presenting throughout a speech, being intimidating towards the receiver. I really related to that, i realized that the social interaction skills are far apart from linguistic or communication skills. Should we never relate one being good at speeches, being similarly good at those damn social skills.

  • William

    Slatz, your comment said it best. I couldn't agree with you more.

  • Gwen

    Q: How do I work with stupid people?

    A: Maybe they aren't really stupid.

    Q: Where do I find an article about how to work with stupid people?

    • Mik

      Don’t work with really stupid people.

    • Mik

      Don’t work with really stupid people.

    • NewsMaster69

      I give up….. There are so many purely ignorant and stupid people in the work place by Friday I am emotionally numb to my surroundings. From women on Facebook during meetings, to old crusty white men comparing modern day business transactions to that big contract they had with Kodak in 1993, it is just utterly exhausting to the point that depression is setting in. I understand everyone has to put up a show but truly intelligent people see right through it and we just want you to be realistic and drop the delusional puppet show that is dealing with you day in and out. Sigh……..

  • Ralinhares

    Excellent post!

    I know I am a little late, but I found this website by literally typing on Google “how to work with stupid people”.

    I’ve just had a major career change lately, and I’m having a hard time dealing with the ammount of “teamwork” needed for my new job. It’s just frustrating to see how people panic with the smallest problems, or just have a MASSIVE hard time just understanding something that has been explained 1.0000x times.

    Still, your post was an awesome eye opener. I have to say it’s not easy, especially when you REALLY need to rely on these people. BUT, it all boils down to empathising at some degree.

    Thanks, all the best!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S2YTF4LYELZPR7LYDQZF3GJ5RY Jim

    It’s been said that you will view anyone who’s IQ is 20 pts lower as a moron.
    If you have an above average IQ, then everyone who is average will seem like a moron.

    • Rackshom

      Not quite, I’d flag myself as only five or ten points higher (at most, I would really expect myself to be at the same level of intelligence) then most people. However, the quality that leads me to believe somebody to be moronic is the lack of utilization of thinking skills. And, the article does not apply to me, as I do not judge intelligence on the results, but the method of argument. And it has become apparent to me that, despite the steps of communication are receiving, interpretting, evaluating, responding, most simply skip to interpretting. This is the trait I believe to be stupid in a peer. The attitude, not the answer.

      • Jenny

        What if most people are stupid? will you still expect yourself to be at the same level of intelligence than most people? 

    • Sharon Hall

      “Whose” is the word you need, not “who’s.” “Who’s” means “who is.” “Whose” is the possessive personal pronoun.

  • Adam

    I came a across this article purely by means of a rhetorical google search, “I work with stupid people”. The first few paragraphs really helped me consider the statement I was claiming, and try and re-evaluate some of the situations I deal with on a daily basis through a different set of eyes. Although as I read the rest of the article mainly pertaining to differences in judgment and disagreements, I realized this article doesn’t necessarily appease to my situation, but was informative none the less. The people I work with are legitimately stupid, I helped my boss archive old emails (3 step process), every time for a year. Wireless mouse doesn’t work? Solution: batteries. Wireless mouse doesn’t work instance #2? Solution: batteries. ME: “…lump sum, that’s why I put BILL LUMP SUM in big bold capitalized letters in the email that you are calling in regards to” <- no joke. ME: “…here they are in the pile next to your desk where we’ve been staging all the drawings, there’s only like 6 sets here that you would have to thumb through in order to find them. I even bought the colorful sticky notes just so they would stand out better!” I guess brains that dont attempt to solve problems, are like muscles in zero gravity; they just deteriorate. I think I need to buy a diary.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VGGZXYWGXWQ47RPEUNS4PEGBLE David

    J. Crawford for President.

  • Bellx15

    “That’s great -you made your point really clearly!
    So what you are saying, basically, is each to their own. I couldn’t agree more!”

    How do you deal with
    THAT level of stupidity?

  • Anonymous

    What a stupid article…

  • Dhammons34

    I feel like the only point the author is try to get across, Is that we are all stupid.

    • Rackshom

      The point he is trying to get across is that we mislabel people as stupid. However, I truthfully think that none of the communicative errors he lists are problems I generally create. These problems do exist, but only on the other person’s side. I try to listen, but the other person just tell’s me to shut up when I respond. That is the stupidity I am trying to learn to cope with.

      • Truth

        “These problems do exist, but only on the other person’s side.”

        You’re waving a big red flag here, which strongly implies why you have extraordinary problems with people. No-one is infallible, and you certainly aren’t.

        I bet if I were to say you’d made a massive grammatical blooper in the post above mine, you’d deny you’d erred; but you have.

  • Wherearethesmarties?

    This article isn’t really about stupid people – it is about perspectives and understanding one another. 
    I’m fed up with genuinely, seemingly, stupid people.  By stupid people I mean, those that cannot or are seemingly not able to follow instructions. Whether these instructions are given verbally or in writing or by training, stupid people cannot fully process instructions of any kind.  I have yet to figure out if their inability to follow instructions is due to not being able to focus (fully on anything), or because they simply don’t want to, out of laziness.   I firmly believe, that if someone (who doesn’t have a mental genetic illness like Downs Syndrome) is very capable of processing instructions and solving problems.  These people may just not know how to approach a problem, and rather than putting the effort into finding a way to solve a problem, out of laziness, they just rather give up.
    What makes matters way worse in this day and age, is that in school, teachers now breed and encourage stupidity and laziness… we all heard the old praise “good job, good for you” even when the student has failing grades or behaves poorly overall. Evidently students in high school are now given several chances to pass tests and extended dead lines for projects etc…. how can these future adults function in a society where time pressure and world competition exist?  Professors and TA’s in university report that the rate of plagiarism has increased every year in the last 10 years.  Why? Because students are lazy and think they can get away with it, which is what they were used to from their high school years.  The problem with high school education is that there are no repercussions implemented for bad behavior or bad marks because they don’t want to hurt a kids’ feelings… suspension is not a punishment – how are a few days at home a punishment??  Parents can’t punish their children for bad behavior either – what are they gonna do – put their teenager on time out??  Send them to their room so they can sit on their fat asses and play video games? Western societies are screwing themselves, breeding a lazy stupid society.  We cannot all work in a union without having an education, putting in a minimal effort and go home and receive unreasonably high pay.  Why is it that a laborer who has no education, pushes a broom all day long, has a higher pay than an engineering graduate in a junior management position with a debt from his education?  How is it possible for someone with a grade 9 education that operates a crane in a steel mill, earns $30 an hour, and a phd grad from a local university can’t find a job and has to drive a cab or waitress?  
    This society encourages and support dumb and lazy people – just look at welfare. I happen to know some folk on welfare. There is nothing disabling them to do work… all it takes for anyone to go on welfare is to convince their doctor that their depression is so “bad” that they are unable to work, and the doctor will then fill out the necessary paper work for you to go on welfare.  And then these same people also go to the food bank to grocery shop, because otherwise they don’t have enough money to pay for their cell phone and internet connections at home.  Then there are those welfare folk living in very remote towns where housing is cheap and they pop one kid after another as a single mom just so they get $500 more a month.. then when their daughters are in their mid teens, they encourage them to do the same, just so they don’t have to work….
    What a wonderful society we live in.  And don’t get me started on the immigrants who we welcome so much with open arms, and give welfare to them too… so they can live amongst their own kind in some high rise building, never having to learn the English language or adapt to Canadian customs, nooo, we’ll even bend over for them and cancel our traditions so they don’t feel insulted over Christmas time… all the while our government makes it hard for a couple who’s paid taxes for years to have a child, much less two or more to support our population growth… with most households requiring a dual income unless you live in the country where there are no jobs and housing is cheap, how can a family support daycare at $1200/month for child, forget two children?  It’s ok, though, cause we have our immigrants taking care of the population growth while they suck us dry on welfare.   

    This country is famous for supporting the lazy and stupid, and it is encouraged from childhood on by our government and lawmakers. More power to the dumb!!!! …. it can’t go on forever, and I hope to God, that I’ll be long gone, far and away, when things belly flop here… ever watched the movie Idiocracy?  That is where this society is going… out of the kindness of their hearts, so as not to insult (or in other words, not tell the truth right into people’s faces) because it goes “against” the niceness of Canadians… you’re all idiots and liars afraid of getting your precious feelings hurt and afraid of insulting others. 

    Good luck to us all!

    • Richard Flood

      So its not just in the UK then. We need to stop all this welfare bullshit and train workers in school through corporal punishment. I was a hard worker, never had detention etc but if I put a foot out of line a good slap would have sorted that out (and sorted it early on) and I would have thanked them for it later on in life. I know too many people who sit in their houses all day playing Xbox and claiming on “Job Seekers Allowance” yeah right not one of them are looking for a job because they don’t have to. They have to attend a centre once every 2 weeks, lie about the jobs they’ve been looking for and receive over £100. Then when I finish work and have my hard earned salary people pester me for my own money and promise to pay it back when obviously they can’t.

      Western civilization is too soft AND I HATE IT!!!

      • Nishi Hundan

        You know who always say that they “are hard workers?” Stupid people.

      • Sharon Hall

        I don’t think it is only the Western World that has the stupid factor. Not everyone is equal. Everyone has different levels of ability. The stupid have always been with us and always will be.

  • Hillsbilly_rich

    I work with a bunch of stupid people, and they are frustrating me beyond belief. The biggest problem I have is that I am out numbered (heavily). This gives them the ability to group together. The easiest way to describe this is when I was once out of a vehicle and had to take the city bus to work. The stop prior to mine was to a sort of mental rehab and they would all have a field trip. Any way I knew they were mental, my mechanics uniform had my name on it and they would all get a kick out of how they knew my name. I guess they were making fun of me, but I didnt have the heart to lash out back at them. Any way long story short on that bus with them I was the wierdo. This is how I feel now at work and it sucks. What scares me to death is the power of these people in numbers.
    Is there anyone else out there with similar experience, because Ive really got to find a way around this. This is my job, its not like I can just get off the bus.

    • asainnight

      Quit your job. Why you stuck in that kind of situation is the issue. Either you are same level as them or you are afraid if changing

    • CAH

      I hear ya. I got mobbed today by a group of people complaining about a problem…for which I had already presented a (good) solution to weeks ago. Each week they complain about the same problem. And I couldn’t take it any more today. One guy…who was quite belligerent himself, didn’t even know there was a problem and wanted me to prove it to him first. Really? How am I going to explain the solution to you if you don’t even understand there’s a problem? The killer was that they all wanted the “best practice” voted on and agreed upon and written up in a spec before they tried it. At that point my manager threw me under the bus and goaded me into arguing with him. (He is not stupid…and he is strategic). I came unglued. We have no “Spec” that instructs people to do things the sloppy difficult way…why do they need a spec that tells them to do it the right way? The following discussion was about specs that we’ve been working on for over two years! Hello! No one could see the problem with any of this. I was so mad I went home early. (might have been my last day at work)

    • mamacalex

      What scares me is the ability for these people to vote, in fact, they are actually encouraged to vote.

  • Big Daddy

    Obviously the author has never worked for a State University…

    I have a job at a large Midwest University, and I have “never” witnessed such a large scale of stupidity, childish games, territorial contests, and the need to constantly “justify their jobs”.

    I accepted this job thinking that I would be working with some of the top people in their fields.
    It’s worse than running a daycare. In fact, I would rather work with the mentally challenged; At least I’d know what to expect.

    If they ever tested these employee’s for competency in their jobs, most of this place would look like a ghost town.

    I’ve held a lot of jobs in my time. I have worked with, and valued smart people in most of those jobs. I miss smart people.

    I’ve met smarter people in the food service industry. Perhaps I should go back there.

    • Sharon Hall

      Maybe they should also test for punctuation skills and composition skills, which are, after all, a function of intelligence.

  • Joe

    My god, this is fantastic advice.  I was having the worst problems with some co-workers but I feel much better after reading this.  

  • Stupid Person

    This article has nothing to do with it’s own headline.

    • Rackshom

      It does, but it assumes we label other people stupid when we disagree, it does not take into consideration the fact that, when I call a person “stupid”, I mean a flaw in the way the person argues, not a flaw in the argument itself. Although one is commonly found where the other rests.

  • Rackshom

    This was absolutely useless. The normal kind of disagreement is one I view as a contrasting view based on different levels of thought and knowledge. You cannot expect two people, even of the same intellectual level, to think the same thoughts all the time. The kind of idiot I have a problem with is the kind that does not use his brain in an argument. The way I got to this page was by googling  “How to make stupid people listen” and this was the closest I could find under any similar search query. Why would I want them to listen? Because it is my belief that, while not a surefire sign, the willingness to press your own morality and views on another person without listening to his view on morality is a very good indicator of stupidity. For example, such a person recently told me that nobody like someone who say’s something and then keeps on saying it over and over again, and when I tried to point out he kept on saying this over and over again, he said it was because my mind can’t comprehend it. I tried to explain to him the reason I say things over and over again is because in intellectual converation, most cannot understand my thoughts, so I have to give examples and restate it multiple times to make sure they get the big picture, so I’ve gotten to the point where I do it by default, which became a habit that carried on to everyday conversation. I tried to explain this, but he just told me to shut up and that I was an idiot, and refused to listen. He tells me that my views are twisted and evil, and when I try to explain to him the flaws in his reasoning, he just refuses to let me speak. I tried to google “how to make stupid people listen”, but this was the closest damn thing I could find under that or any similar query. I need advice on how to make force stupid people to listen. I do not want to be able to tolerate a person I have a severe disagreement with, as that is actually not the bad part. I want to know how to make an actual person that you can conclude is stupid based on a lack of logical thought to conceive of traits he chooses to criticize, and refuses to hear any further, therefore not ever hearing anything to show exceptions and flws in his logic. I want to be able to effectively make these people respect the idea that not listenting is the stupidest thing you can do.

    • http://jasoncrawford.org jasoncrawford

      Hi Rackshom. You clearly got very fired up about this; you must be having some very frustrating interactions with people. If they don’t seem to be listening to you, or don’t seem to be thinking carefully, it may be one of the emotional, cognitive, or psychological problems I listed in the last couple sections of the article.

      Or, it may actually be that the people you’ve been talking to are stupid—or irrational, or muddleheaded, or otherwise confused. In that case, re-evaluate why you’re talking to them in the first place. What do you have to gain?

      You can’t make people listen to you, or force them. All you can do is persuade them and motivate them. If that doesn’t work—go somewhere else and talk to more intelligent, clearheaded, rational, logical people.

      • Rackshom

        I am well aware of semantic noise, and it is a combination of poor cognitive ability and semantic noise. The thing is, this person is my friend. I am frustrated over this, and I don’t want to hold it against him personally, but I feel that this is making me very upset, not just because of him, but because the majority of people do this as well. I cannot persuade them and motivate them, they are singleminded and again, think nothing beyond the first step of logic. He said that it was unacceptable for me to do it, but that he did it because “my tiny brain” couldn’t comprehend the message. If he thought beyond this however, I am sure any person with the intelligence level of a ten-year old would realize that I repeat a message to get a point across as well. He makes a “serious” accusation and does not let me explain myself, but I am sure he believes in trial by jury. I will restate my point if it did not come across as clear the first time, I want a way to make sure that they think beyond the first step, as these people LITERALLY just stop thinking about an idea, and refuse to accept any comment otherwise, as soon as they reach the first “sensical” conclusion. I believe that if I can get people to think beyond the first sensical conclusion, “God must be real because the Bible say’s so, and we know the Bible’s real because God wrote it,” and think beyond to other possiblities: “A cycle of unverifiable logic is hardly a validation of religion, but, science is based on the what is logical at the moment, but things are still unknown, and every fact we know about science is bound to change at some point. Therefore, modern science is actually no more valid than religion”

        • Jenny3223

          You should read the last part of the article it clearly explains a good solution. “Choose your battles. You don’t have to get your way in every disagreement”. Your friend is just stupid, most of the time other people realize that but say nothing. and if they think the same way your friend does, it’s because they’re stupid too.

  • Videogold

    So let’s say I do all that you say, paying particular attention to the way others judge the world, and how that relates to my own perspective, thus attempting to bridge that divide of human social interaction, meanwhile, they spend no time even thinking about what I might be thinking, could not possibly care less, and go on there merry way actin how they have always acted.  Now who’s stupid?

    • Jenny

      It’s a good article, but I totally agree with you ’cause it’s like trying to think the same way they do and they might be wrong and that makes us stupid too.

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  • criminal2334

    Your process for working with presupposed stupid people is right on.

    The people who are REALLY stupid (the ones I’ve always worked with) are the ones who outright REFUSE to discuss anything after the first 2 sentences.
    The true morons resist any and all forms of elaboration or clarification of ideas.

  • Nikhil Patel

    here you go again. same old answer. Didn’t waste my time after readin first paragraph

  • http://www.facebook.com/Aphex19 Ryan Hackett

    The article is correct, but what it seems to miss is that stupid people don’t care about any of this. They don’t care if they can’t communicate properly, or if they are making an incorrect judgement of others.

    Stupid people are easy to spot. Stupid people are difficult and always will be.

  • Guest

    can I share one of the line that says;
    Sometimes people phrase things loosely or talk in metaphors that aren’t meant to be taken literally. it really made my day

  • derfmcgee

    So, after going through this checklist the person has failed all of the above. Therefore they are stupid?

  • Guest

    How about those people who truly love to play devil’s advocate? ;) one day they disagree with you say, so the next day you say what they said, and they’ll disagree with that too. Impossible.

  • Guest

    I work with someone who’s really ignorant. They learned things from other people who believe everything they are told, and they spout it out like it’s God’s truth. In reality, it just makes them look foolish and near-sighted. I have a coworker who disagrees with EVERYTHING anyone says just to make a point. If you repeat her view the next day, she will disagree with it as well, making her look ridiculous. I’ve given up trying to have normal conversations with her, and stick to topics like the weather, and what time we’re going home.

  • lh

    Thank you, author. I was looking for a kind way to tell my friend that her propensity to call others “stupid” reflected poorly on her, not the object of her derision. And Here it is. Well done.

  • anthony

    people with less intelligence work harder, and people higher up love them because of their strong work ethic with zero threat. People who are deep thinkers tend to not work as hard and if a person in a position of power identifies this then action will be taken immediately

  • LVRichardson

    Wow. Reading the comments! Interesting. I loved this article. I had the same response to the question that the author did, i.e., what’s stupid to you might not really be stupid, but I could never have filled in the specifics the way he did. Excellent job! Reading the comments, though, indicates that many people really do think they are the only intelligent one in a sea of stupid. How can that be? I’ve always surrounded myself with people who are at least as smart, if not smarter, than I am, so I haven’t experienced the level of stupid that everyone else seems to be exposed to. It sounds like a whole lot of people are under-employed and over-qualified. Your offices shouldn’t be filled with people you think are stupid. Try finding another job.

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  • Robbie_D

    This is a very interesting article. At the end of the day “stupid” is a subjective term we use to label people we perceive to lack the intelligence or capability to carry out a task. I guess by changing our perspective we can see them as capable and therefor not stupid, however I strongly believe that this cannot be done with and for all people.

    The real smart people will have the patience to deal and perception to deal with “stupid” people and utilise their strengths and their abilities. They will also know when they cannot work a “stupid” person and to remove themselves from working with that person by reallocation of tasks or by other means necessary. This may even be in the form of leaving a job or a position.

    At the end of the day the general idea of this article is right. An intelligent person will rise above his surroundings or will create reasonable surroundings for themselves to

    The world is however not a perfect one however and not every “stupid” person can be worked with by means of altering your perception.

  • fustian24

    See the happy moron,
    He doesn’t give a damn.
    I wish I were a moron,
    My God, perhaps I am!

    Author unknown.

  • fustian24

    What incenses me is that after years of public and private education and all of the vast sums of money we pay to the government and the education establishment, just about HALF of our population is below average.

    How can this be borne?