Dumb people can be split into two categories. Those who realise it and those who do not. Yes, the second type of people do exist. The Dunning-Kruger effect, whereby people with low ability have an illusionary superiority. The second type of people are the really dumb ones. They cannot comprehend the fact that they are dumb. These people are the hardest to deal with, because they don’t see the issue.

What are your options?

As tempting as it might be to tell them that they are dumb, it will be impossible. They do not realise that they are dumb. The skills (which they lack) needed to produce a right answer, is the skills needed to recognise one. Besides, doing so will likely waste a lot of your time. It’s high effort and likely to have no returns.

So what else can you do then? The first and foremost is to accept the fact that not only are they dumb, but more importantly, they are unable to realise that. With that limitation in mind, you should not get upset with them. Instead, you play the cards you have been dealt.

The easiest way to deal with them is to give them simple non controversial tasks to do, coupled with a directly quantifiable KPI. On the other hand, bear in mind that dumb people are not always wrong. They just happen to be wrong for a larger than usual proportion of the time. So it is possible to use them for more complex tasks, provided that their approach to it happens to be one of the few things they get correct.

Lastly, you should bear in mind that dumb people not only are unable to perceive their incompetence, but also do not recognise superior skills of those around them. Inflated egos are quite common, and their confidence can potentially misguide the inexperienced ones around them. On the flip side, because of their egoistic and “I’m always right” attitude, buttering up these people is a quick and easy way to get them to work hard. Be sure to keep them under close supervision though, as a dumb and hardworking person can potentially bring you further from your goal, rapidly.

Which side are you on?

So are you smart or are you dumb but just don’t realise it? Have you identified the dumb ones in your office?

Who is the idiot?

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].