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Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode

TEDCRED 30+

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How do smart people "find their level" in conversation?

I am interested in identifying how smart people (gifted/exceptional or whatever word we’re using this week) people recognize each other.

I have observed that they can identify each other relatively quickly, and even broadly determine where they sit relative to each other while average or “less smart” people can usually identify that they are dealing with “smart” people but not necessarily the extent to which they are smart.

Some things I have observed that are “tells” of being “quicker”:

1. A willingness to leave the conversational basics behind and explore deeper into the subject (and if the person they are conversing with does not follow, drop back to the level the other can cope with).
2. Anchoring - taking the current topic of conversation and looking for a frame of reference they are already familiar with to understand it better.
3. Quips and parallel commentary - fleeting comments that are not meant to derail the main thrust of the conversation.

Any other keys you have observed in your experience?

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    Aug 14 2011: When I meet someone, I gauge our relative IQs based on:
    Does this person contribute spontaneous insight and original ideas to the conversation?
    Are their jokes sophisticated, original and surprising? (or literal and unoriginal?)
    Is this person curious about the world?
    Is this person open to new ideas?
    How does this person act when he doesn't know something or turns out to be wrong?
    Can this person deal with grey areas?
    Does this person follow side trails in the conversation?
    Does the person acknowledge nuances?
    Am I hearing a lot of bad logic? Does the person defend failed logic?
    Has this person tried to convince me to attend their church and/or try homeopathy?

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