3 ways to be a smartypants without losing friends

July 28, 2015

With these simple tips, you can get the best ideas from your team, edit those pesky mistakes on Wikipedia, win an argument and still have people like you.

3 ways to be a smartypants without losing friends

Brainstorm a new idea

  • Idea generation works best when the participants can spark off each other, so get at least half a dozen lively people involved, if you can.
  • Brainstorms often start slowly and may need something to break the ice. So make it fun: give people a glass of wine or treat them to lunch.
  • Use visual aids: if you're looking for new product ideas, have some good or bad products on the table as conversation pieces.
  • Scrupulously write down every idea that comes up on a whiteboard for all to see.
  • Disallow negative criticism of any idea during the session.

Correct a Wikipedia article

  • You don't have to be a registered user to edit a Wikipedia article. Simply click on an "edit this page link" and make your changes in the box that comes up.
  • Write a brief account of what you've done in the "edit summary" box.
  • If you want to change the meaning of an article or change its facts, this counts as a "major edit." If you're planning a major edit, make your intentions known via a discussion page.
  • When you incorporate the thoughts and opinions of other users, it's less likely that your changes will be disputed or deleted.

Win an argument

In personal disagreements, as in war, an all-out frontal assault is rarely the winning strategy. Keep calm. If you lose your cool, you've lost the argument.

  • Avoid statements that are mere retrenchment. Instead, use words that invite the other party to let you have your say
  • For example, don't say something like "That's garbage." Try instead something like "I think you've misunderstood what I said."
  • However tempting it may be, don't resurrect old conflicts, and never make things personal. Stick to the matter in hand and the relevant facts.

Generating ideas and having disagreements is an important part of life, but there's a right way to do it. Be respectful and don't be afraid to be wrong. Sometimes learning something new is much more important than proving you're right.

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