Board meetings, classrooms, and family get-togethers can often be a place of thought-provoking conversation. Whether politics or philosophy or company issues, many people believe that their ideas are the best and the most intriguing. But everyone dreads being That Girl or That Guy in the group: the one who digs themselves in the deepest behind their belief system to fight any and all arguments tooth and nail because they are absolutely certain they know what they are talking about. If you do not dread this, then you have already committed the first offense:
1. You think you are the smartest person in the room.
Just by having initiated this thought, you have begun a chain reaction of almost imperceptible facial expressions, body language, and intonations that will cue everyone in on your feelings of superiority. Rather than being open-minded to the alternate notions of intelligence the others have to offer, you have secluded yourself in the small island of “truth” that every human being has a stake in but does not necessarily meet the objective standard of “reality.”
2. No one else in the group seems to be defending their point as tenaciously as you.
Yes, maybe you are just a wonderful speaker. Maybe you can really pack some power behind your words. But that does not mean you are more correct than anyone else. If you ever think to yourself, “Wow, these people really are not as passionate as me about this topic,” then you are running the risk of allowing your passion to dilute the facts. Cool-headedness may seem like indifference, but it is also the best climate for reason.
3. The group chimes in to respond to the points others make, but after you speak, everyone seems to fall quiet.
Sorry, friend, but you did not just argue them into a speechless wonder. They do not know how to respond without being impolite or highly disagreeable. Or, in the case of sharing stories in a group setting, they are simply bored by what you have to say. Their minds wandered far, far away from you and what you had to say.
4. You do not hear everything the others are saying because all you can think about is what you have to contribute.
Communication is a careful cycle of encoding and decoding messages. If you find yourself encoding in your mind while other people are continually taking part in the whole cycle, they are going to notice. Once you have actually gotten around to making the statement you have been formulating for so long, you better believe that it is going to feel like some sort of an intrusion to them. It will be inorganic and forced.
5. Every single person finds something to disagree with you about.
Now, don’t get me wrong about this one. Being outspoken is absolutely different from being wrong. We have all had moments in our life when the group has disagreed with our conception of truth and reality. The distinction comes rather in the group’s responses. Generally, if you are knowledgeable, reasonable, and mild about your outspoken convictions, there will be a genial disagreement. However, if you adopt the wrong mentality or attitude, the group will absolutely chomp at the bit for an opportunity to knock you down a peg or two.