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How to Know If Someone Is Playing Dumb or Really Is Dumb

How to Know If Someone Is Playing Dumb or Really Is Dumb
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When you’re up against a business rival, a competitive member of your own family, or just an annoying friend who you suspect might be lying to you, it’s always in your best interests to find out exactly how much they know. If you want to know what you’re up against, you need to discover their true knowledge and capabilities.

For example, if you are going after a big promotion at work but your colleague also has their eye on the position, it’s a good idea to work out precisely what they know about the role, and whether they have actually taken the initiative and applied for it.

Or let’s say that you suspect your partner of cheating on you. In a bid to discover the truth, you meet up with their best friend, who you think might be covering for them. Their friend says that they have no idea whether your partner is cheating, and that they know nothing.

Here’s the problem – how do you know whether their friend is playing dumb?

Playing Dumb Is Often A Great Strategy

To put it plainly, playing dumb works beautifully when you are trying to throw someone off the scent. When you are up against someone else, you can gain an advantage if they underestimate you. Their guard will go down, and they may even share valuable information with you! Pretending that you don’t know much about a situation will encourage other people to open up first. You can then gauge their true character and communication skills.

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    For example, suppose you are a salesperson and you are competing with another member of your department for an end-of-year bonus. Pretending as though you don’t really care about the bonus, and acting as though you aren’t very confident in your sales abilities, may encourage your rival to become overconfident. They might even babble on about the great tricks they use to turn their cold leads into profitable sales. Needless to say, you’d have a great advantage over them in this situation!

    Pretending that you are less smart than you really are will also endear you to others. A high IQ often makes other people envious, so it’s best to maintain that you have achieved your success through sheer hard work, a little luck, or a combination of the two.[1]

    Although intelligent people are often capable of undertaking a lot of work to a high standard, they can suffer the burden of heavy expectations. For instance, if you are well-known as a competent person at work, the likely result is that you will be given yet more work to do. Playing dumb can work in your favor, because your boss won’t expect much from you! The smartest people know that it isn’t always a good idea to show your competence at every turn.

    How to Tell Whether Someone Is Playing Dumb?

    Of course, someone who appears to be playing dumb may just be, well, dumb. So how can you tell the difference?

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    The first clue is that someone who is playing dumb will take great care to allow other people to talk.

    This lets them gauge their competition’s true level of knowledge. They also gently provoke other people in a bid to obtain extra information.

      For instance, let’s take the example of a woman who has found evidence that her husband is having an affair, and decides to confront him. She has seen a photo of another woman in his wallet, and her friend has told her that he has been seen leaving a local bar with the very same woman in the picture.

      If the husband in this scenario is smart, he’ll “play dumb” by denying that he has done anything wrong, and asking how she arrived at her conclusion. This approach will let him discover how much she knows, which will then help him make a decision – can he get away with lying to her, or does she have incontrovertible evidence that he’s been unfaithful?

      He might use another tactic – asking dumb questions to make her underestimate him. For instance, he may say something like “Why do you think I’d have a photo of her?” when asked about the picture in his wallet. On the other hand, smart people sometimes overdo it, i.e. their questions are just a little too dumb. This is a red flag that signifies that they are trying to appear ignorant.

      An intelligent person who is playing dumb will gradually bring you round to their point of view.

      They are often assertive, put on a show of sympathy for your position, and then slowly convince you that your perceptions are wrong. By the end of the conversation, you may find yourself agreeing to go along with them. For example, a colleague who you suspect is stealing your office stationery might nod in apparent agreement as you relay your grievance, ask a few dumb questions (e.g. “Your stapler? I didn’t even know we used them in this office!”), then behave in such an earnest manner that you end up agreeing with them – there is no way they could have been stealing from you, right?

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      Finally, watch out for neutrality and flexibility.

      People who play dumb are careful to keep their cards close to their chests. Revealing their true preferences and political allegiances could give their rivals some information to use against them at a later date.[2]

      Play Dumb to Understand the Fake Dummies

      To get closer to the fake dummies and understand what their real intentions are, play dumb too. This is what we call “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

        Though it’s not easy to play dumb, here we’ve got some techniques to make it work for you.

        Never overdo it.

        Do not pretend to be more ignorant or stupid than you really are too often, or people will either think that you truly are brainless, or that you are intentionally setting out to manipulate them. You should never tell anyone that you use this tactic, because they are unlikely to ever trust you fully in the future.

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        Be smart when choosing your moment.

        Only play dumb when it will help you get valuable information. For example, if you pretend that you are oblivious to office politics, other people will start to confide in you. This gives you useful information about all the key players in the company.[3]

        Playing dumb can give you a valuable opportunity to ask questions that might otherwise seem rude or inappropriate. For instance, let’s suppose that your manager has been blowing the department’s budget on pointless IT training and, as a result, there is a shortfall of cash.

        Rather than asking them outright to explain precisely why they felt the need to overspend, and exactly how much they spent, you could ask them to tell you how the department’s budgets are decided upon. You could then ask them to take you through the department’s recent accounts so you can see an example of a budget in action. When you appear to be earnest and eager to learn, people will not question your true motives.

        Practice your poker face.

        If you are asking intentionally stupid questions or pretending to be far less smart than you really are, it’s easy to give into the temptation to smirk. Don’t do it, or you’ll give the whole game away. If necessary, practice remaining straight faced, even when confronted with an amusing situation.[4]

        Go Forth and Act Ignorant

        As you can see, those who know how to play dumb, and how to detect it in others, are in a strong position. When you learn how to tone down your intelligence, others will trust you more. When you can spot this tactic in colleagues, friends, and relatives, you’ll soon be able to tell when they have an ulterior motive in mind. Next time you need some information from someone, why not act a little dumber? The results will surprise you.

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        Reference

        More by this author

        Anna Chui

        Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

        The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) How to Live Life to the Fullest and Enjoy Each Day 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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        Last Updated on February 11, 2021

        20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

        20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About
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        Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

        Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

        Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

          If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

          The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

          Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

          There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

          Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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          Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

          Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

          Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

          • The idea for Google -Larry Page
          • Alternating current generator -Tesla
          • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
          • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
          • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

          …and many, many more.

          Fact #4: Premonition dreams

          There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

          You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

          • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
          • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
          • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
          • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

          Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

          Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

          Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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          Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

          In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

          Fact #7: Sexual dreams

          The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

          Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

            Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

            Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

            • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
            • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
            • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

            Fact #9: Dream drug

            There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

            Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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              The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

              Fact #11: Increased brain activity

              You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

              Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

              As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

              Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

              In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

              Fact #13: Pets dream too

                Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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                Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

                Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

                Fact #15: Blind people dream too

                Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

                Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

                  It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

                  Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

                  Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

                  Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

                  You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

                  Fact #19: Gender differences

                  Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

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                  Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

                  As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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