How long do you allow a conversation to continue when someone obviously does not know what they are talking about?
Show notes and links:
3 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About (LinkedIn)
Unique and Interactive Effects of Empathy and Social Status on Involvement in Bullying (Social Development)
How to Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About (Even When You Don’t) (Lifehacker)
Full episode text
It’s something I think pretty much all of us have done at least once – trying to B.S. our way through a conversation, or letting someone continue speaking for longer-than-is-comfortable after they’ve made clear they have no idea what they’re talking about.
There’s some very complex social interplay going on here. Often times, the choice to not confront someone is a result of unequal power structure or social status, In an article for LinkedIn Connect, Monique Bonner talks about just such a situation where she, as the boss, had no idea what she was talking about. When nobody confronted her about the fact she didn’t know, she managed to burn out her entire team in under a year.
There’s plenty of research that explains why most people dislike confrontation – and the more confident someone is, the more likely we are to question ourselves instead of them. Lifehacker’s suggestion for how to get away with talking about something you know little about, in fact, starts with “be as confident as you can.” Of course, even Lifehacker suggests that it’s better to learn something about the topic instead of trying to fake your way through.