Friday, June 1, 2018

Intelligence Speaks, Wisdom Listens

How do you tell the difference between intelligence and wisdom?

One way is through a person's social interactions - when they speak, what they speak, how they speak.

First, I'll list down a few epic bite-sized mantras (that fits well on a T-shirt or Instagram). Then, I'll tell a few story to show how those mantras work in practice.

Five Mantra of the Intelligent Man and the Wise Man

1. An intelligent man sparks arguments, a wise man steers conversations

2. An intelligent man speaks his mind, a wise man speaks to the minds of others

3. An intelligent man thinks before he speaks, a wise man thinks before choosing to speak

4. An intelligent man listens to respond, a wise man listens to understand

5. An intelligent man values the freedom of speech, a wise man appreciates the beauty of silence

Nor does the ability to speak fluently with a fake accent

The Tale of the Passionate Fanboy

Friend: So, who do you think will win the XYZ elections - A or B?

Me: Tough call. There's this interesting pundit predicting B to win. By looking more at the psychological mindset of the voters, rather than the policies of the candidates. 

Friend: You sure it's not one of those fake news outlet? Can't trust these so-called experts these days. I'm sure A will clinch it! Most of the polls say so!

Me: Polls aren't prophets. They got the PQR referendum wrong, remember?

Friend: *groan* I still can't believe that happened! So, you really think the polls are wrong?

Me: Maybe polls can be a bad thing, you know. Feeding wrong data, giving a false sense of security...

Clearly, my friend is a strongly opinionated person. If I had picked B or even sat on the fence, very likely my friend would press on hard arguing why A should and will win. So I tried to de-personalize the topic. Even if there were to be a debate, it would be an objective debate based on what experts think, and not so much what we think. Politics is a touchy subject, so I tried to shift away from it. His mind is already made up. He's trying hard to stay on track. Sorry, but let's not go there... Must improvise... Polls! How interesting! Let's talk about POLLS!

Intelligent people are always unwittingly setting up traps for others and themselves. Don't bite the bait, but don't shoo them off either. They want to share what's on their mind, they want to pour their hearts out, so let them. Carefully beckon them towards you, towards solid ground, towards a more meaningful exchange. Rules 1 and 2 - TICK!

Discussions shouldn't be a fight, but a dance.

As well as your every intention of speaking up  

The Tale of the Paranoid Girlfriend

Friend 1: Guys, I think he's cheating on me.
Friend 2: OMG! Bastard!
Me: Hmm... how sure are you?

Friend 1: He's back on Tinder, according to G...
Friend 2: WTF? Tinder? If D did the same thing to me, we'll be so OVER...
Me: Hmm... is that all?

Friend 1: J-j-just rumours... L-l-like how he's staying up late in the library supposedly studying... M-m-missing classes... C-c-cutting our calls short...
Friend 2: I KNEW IT! Didn't I always say LDR just doesn't work?

Friend 1: W-w-what now... W-w-what do I do?
Me: Hmm... it's a bit premature to...

Friend 1: *breaks down and cries uncontrollably*
Friend: No, no... Stay strong, girl! YOU CAN SO DO THIS! CALL HIM AND BREAK UP NOW!
Me: *discreetly takes away Friend 1's phone lying on the table*

A bit dramatic, but that's how love goes. These things happen all the time. We have to be there for them, we have to ferry them through the seas of despair. If it happen to me? I told you so? Hey, sister, this ain't about you. YOU. ARE. NOT. HELPING. AT. ALL. Seriously, Friend 2 deserves to be chucked into the deep end of the ocean and swim with the sharks...

It's hard to know how to react in situations like this. Best thing to do is just shut up and listen. Stay calm. Observe closely. Think hard. Don't say unnecessary things, don't rush to conclusions. Silence can soothe, silence can heal. Rules 2 to 5 - TICK!

Sometimes, the best thing is to say nothing at all. And as an ancient proverb goes: "Speak only if you can improve the silence".


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