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The art of acting dumb.


Recently I’d been really, really humbled by smart people who act dumb or ignorant. They are the true smarts who know the wisdom behind the saying “lose the battle but win the war.”

Let’s consider this: When you first meet someone and discover that they sort of don’t live up to expectations in some ways, there are three possibilities:

  1. They are really dumb;
  2. They are acting humble/ really humble; or
  3. They are acting dumb?

I used to think that 70% of the people I meet belong to (1) and (2), but it’s only recently that I realised that I was so wrong. 70% of the people I meet, in reality, belong to group (3).

That is, they’re the smart folks who act dumb.

After observing and mulling about it, I think acting dumb is a truly valuable skill to have, if you can apply it to the right context. For, if you apply it to the wrong context, people might start hating you, especially when it results in them getting the wrong information, and making mis-steps.

It’s even worse if people realised that they have been duped and as a consequence lost something because of you “acting dumb”.

Anyway, here are some possible reasons why you should act dumb sometimes.

  • To probe and find out the extent of the other person’s knowledge. 

It’s only when you act dumb that you can find out exactly how much the other person knows or don’t know about the particular topic. For example, if you are so convincing in your acting dumb, the other person will tend to drop his guard and want to teach you about the said topic.

Then you can mentally map out what are the gaps in his/your knowledge.

  • To assuage the other person’s ego. 

I think you can never show yourself to be smarter than certain types of people. Sometimes, that’s really courting trouble.

Erm, like if the bride-to-be comes into your wedding boutique and says that she saw the cheapest gown on Vogue magazine last week, and you know she’s just BSing…what do you say?

Speak your mind and lose the customer, or…act dumb?

  • To not get extra work. 

I don’t usually act dumb to not get extra work, since I’m always curious and I like to learn. However, it’s only recently on hindsight that I realised people love acting dumb to avoid getting extra work, or being arrowed, or simply to avoid the extra hassle and trouble.

So don’t underestimate the value of acting dumb/ ignorant.

Of course sometimes ignorance can seriously kill, and that’s why acting dumb is an art to be used with caution. You need to really watch who you are dealing with and evaluate the circumstances properly before choosing to act in such a manner.

I don’t usually act dumb (solely because of pride, lol), but increasingly I’m seeing this art as a virtue. ^^

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