The Smartest Person In The Room

“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It’s called humility.
Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks.”
Unknown

I was watching an old episode of Shark Tank last week during my holiday break from blogging and there was this relatively young guy pitching his business idea to the sharks. The interesting thing about this particular show is that several investors made an offer for his business but no one wanted him to be part of it. Why? Because they thought he was a detriment to his own business and it/they would never be successful if he came along for the ride. Instead, they would essentially pay him to go away.

The other interesting part of this show is that this guy couldn’t understand why they wanted him to leave, even after the sharks tried to explain their reasoning to him. He had this bewildered look on his face, thinking that maybe he wasn’t hearing things correctly. You see, in a room filled with intelligent and very successful people, he thought he was the smartest guy in the room and had difficulty accepting anything less than his truth.

Unfortunately, we all probably know people who are affected with this smartest person in the room disorder. If you’ve ever lived with a teenager, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Luckily, most of them realize, at some point in their lives, they were wrong. The problem is, some never do. They turn into adults who believe they are the smartest person in the room because they possess a fair degree of knowledge about certain subject matters or can answer some obscure question.

Of course not every intelligent person feels or behaves this way. Most are sensitive, caring individuals who never flaunt their knowledge like some two dollar lottery winner who behaves like a wannabe genius investor. Most intelligent people understand that in a rush to be right and prove themselves to be the best, they would miss subtleties and human motivation. Because if you can understand people and give them the common courtesy of your attention instead of turning your head when they speak, you will transcend any degree of intelligence you think you might possess.

Effective problem solving requires that an individual understand people and respect their positions and opinions. If you’re so locked into your own sense of truth, you will never see that the opposite of what you believe to be true may also be true. MIss that and you miss endless  opportunities.

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Ultimately, this disorder is more about winning or being right, than being smart and that, in itself, carries a heavy burden. You don’t really notice the truly intelligent people. Their egos are not obvious. Their walk is not a strut. Their smile is not a smirk. They don’t feel a need to shine a spotlight on themselves. They respect the opinion of others. They are smart enough to understand that losses always turn into wins and that everyone you meet or deal with on a daily basis has something to say that has value. The truly smart person understands that you never really learn much from hearing yourself speak.

Ignorant people with knowledge miss those little facts.

The guy on Shark Tank didn’t realize that it’s not about smarts, it’s about an inability or unwillingness to learn, to believe he may have made some mistakes along the way that not only affected his life but those around him, including his family.

The smartest guy in the room never realizes that he isn’t, even when it’s obvious to everyone around him. That’s real arrogance.

But as someone once said, arrogance is just insecurities playing dress up. 

I couldn’t agree more.

54 thoughts on “The Smartest Person In The Room

  1. Jodi

    I was just discussing “Emotional Intelligence” EQ – Emotional IQ with my son and his girlfriend this morning. Most often – emotional intelligence will take you further in life then a genius level IQ. Great thoughts George! YOU are a smart man! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      I agree, Jodi. I’ll take emotional IQ any day. I need that kind of understanding from people around me. Without it they’re just robots spewing out information.
      Thank you..:)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Ilona Elliott

    Well George you are indeed a wise man. You hit a nerve for me but the way in which you approached it was like the proverb “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

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    Reply
  3. sportsattitudes

    I loved this post. Unfortunately, I think myself plagued with a larger-than-usual dosage of the “smartest men in the room” in my working life. At first I thought it was me and a flaw of my personality but over time, as the years have gone on, I now can recognize them a mile away …and it isn’t my attitude that needs an adjustment but theirs. That in itself may come off as quite arrogant but my patience with the type has just about worn out…as there’s a lot of ’em out and about!

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    1. George Post author

      Yeah, the workplace is loaded with
      Smarties. The sad part is that they don’t even recognize their inadequacy and irritating manner, which makes it all the more upsetting..:)

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  4. auroraroschen

    A counselor once asked me, “Would you rather be right or be in relationship?” I believe this is an important question for self-described intellectuals to ask themselves, in addition to everything you have laid out above.

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    Reply
      1. auroraroschen

        I generally want to be right, but I think the right answer is to choose the relationship over the need to be right (depending on the level of intimacy of the relationship).

        Like

  5. DailyMusings

    What a great post! I think we all know people like this and I try to steer clear of them. I always am amazed at how they are totally unable to look inside themselves and see who they really are. Too smart for that I guess. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. Ann Coleman

    I completely agree! Someone can be brilliant, but if they are not also a bit humble, they will never get out of their own way enough to be truly successful. We have so much to learn from other people if we can just put our egos away long enough to really listen and try to understand what they are saying. My latest post is along this same vein (I swear I wrote it on Friday, even though it’s just being published today, and not really stealing your idea!), but you looked at the bigger picture and came up with more interesting insights. One of the many reasons I always read your blog…..

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    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Ann. You’re right, humility is such a learning experience that so many people fail to understand. I would never think you’d steal an idea….:). Your writing is much too rich, interesting and honest. Thank you.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Holly'sMom

    Well, this posting is SPOT ON! I always say there is “academic sense” and “common sense”. You CAN have both, obviously, but in my experience most people I know who have strong academic sense have little common sense. I far prefer someone with common sense. Anyone can study and learn, but it takes common sense to get through life. This posting is hitting home with me today based on a conversation I had with someone yesterday. One of those people who know everything about a topic because it’s the field they work in. The only problem is she didn’t know what she was talking about, but it most definitely was a situation of trying to prove superiority over me because it’s what she does, therefore, I knew nothing. You have some great lines in this posting. Great read! May I share this to my Facebook?

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    Reply
    1. George Post author

      You’re absolutely right. Whenever I hired someone for a position I always hired the person rather than the knowledge, someone who can interact and work with others. What good is knowledge if you tend to alienate everyone.
      Sorry you have to deal with someone like that but it seems they’re all around us.
      Thank you for wanting to put lying it in Facebook. I appreciate that very much..:)

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      Reply
      1. Holly'sMom

        My father did something of the same when he hired someone. He said he always looked for an individual’s ability to laugh at life, and at themselves. He said if a person couldn’t laugh at them self than they were too serious for the job. And, I agree with you about how one’s knowledge does no one any good if they alienate people. One can always be trained to do the parts of a job they aren’t familiar with, but if you hire someone who doesn’t fit with the rest of the working atmosphere you will be interviewing again real soon!

        Like

      2. George Post author

        Absolutely and your comment about humor is is something I’ve ways believed. If you can’t laugh at yourself you really don’t have a sense of humor and if you don’t have a sense of humor, I probably won’t be spending a lot of time with you.
        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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