When someone is acting foolish, it is important to first categorize whether they are displaying more elements of ignorance, or more elements of arrogance. The reason this is important is because the strategy to deal with the foolishness depends on the category in which the person belongs. Dealing with them in the wrong way can be counter-productive and very frustrating.
If a person is being ignorant, the matter may be as simple as education. Give the person more knowledge. Provide them with further information. Educate them. Train them. The hardest part in this situation is to have patience. If someone is truly incompetent, then telling them once or twice won’t change them, especially if it attacks a fundamental belief they already have. Think of teaching children, or people from other cultures. It takes repetition and discipline to teach new ideas and concepts.
Many times people are arrogant because they are putting up a self-defense mechanism to their own poor self-esteem. If we try to educate them or teach them, they will just feel like they need to prove that much more to us that they are right, because they can’t stand being wrong. In this situation we want to ideally let the person come to the conclusion that they aren’t at the center of it all themselves. One way to do that is to ask honest questions. The keyword here is honest. The questions cannot be interpreted as being attacking because that will only cause the arrogant person to be more arrogant.
Another, more risky, strategy may be to compliment and engage. For example, “You really know a lot about cats, Bob. I bet you had lots of cats while you were growing up.” Again, being sincere is important. This can lead a person to admit that in fact they don’t know as much as they had claimed. Even if they don’t admit it aloud, they will feel it inside and may remember it before they start bragging the next time.
What would happen if we try this strategy on a person who is ignorant? We will sound condescending and embarrass the person. That’s a great way to make an enemy! Now we can see the true significant impact of this distinction.
Now what do we do with a person that is both ignorant and arrogant? Well, that’s going far beyond the scope of this book. Good luck.
Let's love the world together...
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary