Darshana Krishnamony has some tongue-in-cheek advice on how to seem smart in intellectual company
There are three kinds of people in this world: the know-it-alls, the ignorant, and the dextrous conmen. We all encounter situations that test our agility to get through without an embarrassed, pale-faced exit. You are lucky if you know it all or if you are a pro at pulling off that mask of intellectuality. But if you fall into the ignorant category, you are indeed in a bit of a mess! Here’s a guide to help you fix it.
BE THE LISTENER
Intellectuals are good listeners and their thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. They don’t flash their brains too often. Hey, you also earn brownie points for knowing nothing!
PAUSE AT THE RIGHT PLACES
Intellectuals not only think before they speak but also while they speak. It is essential to spread your words in a disjointed yet fluid fashion. One may take help of expressions like ‘Well…’ with a straight face and wait for someone to break the silence with their inputs from which you can continue. Wait a sec, this works only in a group of chatterboxes who are impatient listeners, else Cindrella’s midnight clock may start ticking and you might have to deliver a comeback!
PLAY WITH SARCASM
The best way to hide a stupid comment you unknowingly made is to follow it up with some subtle sarcasm. You must also make sure no one takes offense. Otherwise, you may land in deep trouble!
Even intellectuals need not know it all. Intellectuals are curious to learn. Sometimes accepting that you are less learned on a subject makes you sound intellectual. It is essential to know your stuff well but when you don’t, accepting the fact helps.
FLASH THE MONA LISA SMILE
Wearing the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile makes you look like the type whose thoughts run faster than their words. If trapped in a situation where you have nothing to say, this works best. If questioned, you may say, “I was just thinking…” but DO NOT reveal what you were thinking. Lincoln was right when he said, “Sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (P.S. Lincoln was an intellectual)
BE A LITTLE AWARE
All said, you actually can’t bluff confidently when you know absolutely nothing. You need to have a basic idea of the subject. Say you are aware that you are going to meet a bunch of avid fans of Chetan Bhagat (you may or may not like him or his books), you can acquaint yourself with him by reading up about him. You don’t necessarily have to read his books; reading a synopsis or review online would do. This would help you strike a peaceful and an intellectually sound conversation with those fans.
WHEN YOU HAVE NO ANSWER, BE THE DIPLOMAT
It is possible to bring subjectivity in every situation. If you don’t have a clear answer, highlight the different perspectives brought in and confuse the others too! This makes you the most rational person around.
Sometimes mere confidence in what you say can do wonders. If you don’t know your stuff well, bluff with confidence. Works when the audience is as alien to the subject as you are. Beware of the know-it-alls as they may expose you in the most humiliating manner.
Remember: however professionally you master the art of faking intellectuality, it will eventually wear off like make-up smeared on a model’s face. It is important to develop one’s personality (a part of which is the intellect) while retaining one’s individuality. Therefore, in the long run, you can’t sound intellectual if you aren’t being yourself!
Volume 3 Issue 6