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Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


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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: There are not enough intelligent ppl my age. I'm 27 and I find myself among most of my friends having to dumb down my conversation. It is very hard to transition my intelligent output. I can transition with street conversational skills and how I would talk in a industry or business setting quite well. But I'm talking about pure sheerness of my peers actually being able to understand me. I find myself accidentally but unknowingly cracking technical jokes in pairs of 15 while mixing them with internet humor in a totally present or futuristic tense and not realizing that ppl don't understand me. Because I'm so interested in sharing my intelligence with others that I do recognize after the first 10 minutes that I lost them in the first 40 secs. Because they are not responding and given a blank look as to what I'm even talking about. I'm a african american male and I find quite a bit resentment among my peers sometimes and or other ppl. I find it interesting that I did not use to be like this or maybe I always was but did not apply myself for whatever reason. I have not finished college but I attend Le Cordon Bleu now. It may be my own cognitive abilities coming into play but maybe its the way I learn. I find myself adapting and learning at a staggering rate especially when I'm trying to learn and then my brain seems to grab more on maybe days later after I have viewed a particular subject. It will then I guess absorb knowledge and then I don't know I start to form theories around the theories of the said knowledge that I was trying to absorb. I've always been a thinker outside of the box and for that I've always been a sort of outcast. I am extroverted and introverted at the same time. I am very social but only to those I've grown accustomed to talking to. I sometimes keep quiet and shelter my intelligence either to shy away from making ppl feel insignificant.

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