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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: My husband says that you can measure someone's intelligence based on the lies they tell. He believes that a person will only tell a lie sophisticated enough that *they themselves would believe it.* If a lie is so ridiculous that only a person with no logic skills would believe it, then you can assume that the liar has no logic skills because he would find that lie believable. If a person tells lies that are complex in a very believable way, then you know that this person knows how reason works, and also that person understands a lot about what the listener might be thinking.

    This approach has a bonus: If you meet someone whose lies convince you, you won't even realize they were lying. So you get to go through life thinking that you never meet anyone smarter than yourself. :-P

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