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Researchers Find 3 Reasons Sarcastic People Are More Intelligent

Researchers Find 3 Reasons Sarcastic People Are More Intelligent

Sarcasm was once referred to as the “highest form of intelligence” by Oscar Wilde. On the other hand, it has also commonly been called the “lowest form of wit.” And while some folks may shy away from sarcasm, regarding it as caustic and unfriendly, the latest research has shown that sarcasm between friends does not create a vibe of contempt, as one might expect. In fact, it can even reinforce sincerity in the relationship, as both parties interact honestly with each other. So how can we explain the link between sarcasm and intelligence? What about sarcasm and creativity?

The important thing to remember is that sarcasm does not always manifest as a simple, rude comment – for example, having someone ask if you are excited for a family vacation, and you sarcastically reply, “Yea, sure.” Sarcasm can instead serve many beneficial purposes – like lightening the mood in a tense room, or revealing an honest sentiment that others were afraid to say out loud. The comedy of Louis C.K is a perfect example of how sarcasm can actually draw people together. He has made a career from simple discussions that make use of referencing everyday experiences that we all go through and relate to. Sarcasm gives us the opportunity to vent and express life frustrations in a healthy way that often evokes humor – much more healthy than forcing ourselves to always project fake sincerity, right?

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With that said, here are 3 reasons Harvard and Columbia University researchers say sarcasm brings us closer to finding our internal creativity and intelligence.

1. They have to think harder

Sarcasm requires more thought. When you respond to a remark someone makes, a non-sarcastic response is fairly simple to achieve. The brain does not have to perform acrobatics to arrive at a straightforward response to a straightforward question. But a sarcastic response requires an extra layer of thinking within the same amount of time. As minor as this may seem, it still counts as a brain exercise. You are considering the expected response versus how you really feel, and you’re fusing those to quickly create a response that can be both humorous and cryptic. This is why others do not always realize we are being sarcastic right away. They must think a bit deeper into the subject in order to realize our true intent.

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2. They recognize more possibilities

Sarcasm allows the mind to expand. Among the bundle of characteristics researchers have linked to creativity, sarcasm is one of the most fascinating correlations we’ve seen yet. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia found that those on the giving and receiving end of sarcastic comments were able to perform up to 3 times better on creativity tests. Simply being exposed to sarcasm showed a surprising benefit – 75% of those exposed to sarcastic content figured out a tricky creative task, compared to just 25% of those exposed to sincere content. Thus sarcasm seems to have the power to open our minds to greater possibility and “outside-the-box” idea generation. This is a mindset we don’t typically find ourselves in.

3. They can think abstractly

Sarcasm promotes conceptualization. If you are wondering whether sarcasm really has any practical benefit, findings point to yes. What truly links sarcasm to intelligence is that it opens the doors for abstract thinking – which has long been linked to higher intelligence. After all, it is only abstract thinking that significantly separates humans from animals.

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Harvard researchers point out that sarcasm can even benefit those in the workplace, where abstract thinking is often highly valuable to productivity. However, they do propose one warning: make sure your coworkers understand your sarcasm. The study found that not everyone is receptive to sarcastic humor, and that it can even make people feel tense. So dish out the sarcasm to your pals who appreciate it – and maybe save the sincerity for your boss.

Featured photo credit: gabriel saldana via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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