Do Bright People Make Dumb Mistakes?
By Sandy Schroeder
The question of bright people making dumb mistakes is intriguing. Most of us would not expect smart people to blunder very often. But one of my favorite authors, Dr. Travis Bradberry, says they do.
Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, a service agency that services 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, referenced research by Dr. Shane Frederick at Yale University that explained why rational thinking and intelligence do not always work together.
The theory is bright people tend to be overconfident. They may be so used to being right that they give a quick answer without thinking it through. Bradberry says this can be a problem when similar leaps of reasoning are made in everyday situations.
Here’s how that can work out in the workplace.
Overconfidence figures in – If people are used to being applauded for their work, it’s easy to assume everything will always come out right. That attitude can cause people to make mistakes when they miss the cues that they need help. Most of us have seen this happen. Someone may breeze in with all of the answers, only to discover they have missed a critical piece of the puzzle.
Misjudgments happen – Smart people may expect too much sometimes, not recognizing differences in individuals. This can create unreasonable demands and needless stress. Hard workers who want to achieve, and can, may just take a little longer to get there. Smart leaders take the time to assess each worker and develop a rapport to get the best performance.
Right is a must – Being wrong is never fun, but bright people may be so used to being right that it becomes part of their identity. When someone tells them they are wrong they may feel they are under attack. Another person may just see this as feedback, and work with it accordingly.
Failure is stunning – Bright people get used to winning. When something goes wrong it can be very difficult to accept. It may even lead to giving up. Others have encountered failure and keep right on going. Individuals can waste a lot of time this way, never sticking around long enough to develop serious success.
Persistence gets lost – Not having things snap together quickly can be frustrating for a smart person. Often they just move on to something else, instead of hanging in to further develop their talents.
EQ is missing – When emotional intelligence is missing in smart people, they may only see the world in terms of achievements, skipping right over people and their emotions, which can handicap their leadership.
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