Everyone around me is stupid!

Everyone is stupidAah it’s Monday and the first day of the week – the most loved one by all office goers and people like me who work from home – thank you IBM (I miss going to office sometimes…not always but sometimes. Also read how working from home can work against you). Going to office is fun, especially when you have a good crowd around you (now this is subjective). The definition of good is debatable, so let’s not focus on that.

We all whine that everyone around us is stupid and how impossible it is for us to work  productively. We tend to forget that these stupid people are the ones we have to work and live with. I always laugh at the perception and more so when I came across this fascinating article by Suzanne Lucas – 5 Signs That You’re the Problem.  It made me realize that people are never stupid, our perceptions are. We always try and measure people against our capabilities and our expectations.

We always brush a speaker aside if he/she makes a mistake while reading out news, but we wet our pants if are ever asked to speak in public. 🙂 The bigger problem here is that this unwilling and unwitting ‘perception-rollercoaster’ makes the work environment unhealthy. We start judging our colleagues and eventually feel that we need to move out/away, not realizing that we will be encountering the same species, everywhere!

People will always be stupid and “I” will always be smarter, Tweet: People will always be stupid and but we need to work in teams and we need compassion and understanding to deal with others. Think beyond your ego and see how good everyone is. Otherwise we get stuck in a vicious ‘everyone is stupid’ spiral.

The question that comes up here is of course is what can organizations do to create an engaged workforce who is productively active at all the times. I feel ‘social’ has the answer. The differences or perception of friction appears when people stop communicating. Social platforms like communities and forums allow people to communicate constantly while harnessing mutual knowledge and promoting collaboration at all times. Whiners are always shunned away!

But the answer to the question lies within each of us – how we treat others when they are not watching us. Are there people around you who you think are stupid? Are they really stupid? What impression do they have of you? I will be interested in knowing more about your stupid bunch – do share through comments.

Edited by: Vanitha Poojary


15 thoughts on “Everyone around me is stupid!

  1. Hi Khalid, here is my thoughts. I think this is a well thought out piece of work, that is an accurate statement of peoples perceptions. I see no negativity here. What i see is a call out for all of us to put aside our biases, and our perceptions,and realize that the only person that we can change is ourselves. So, we need to keep that in mind, everytime we roll our eyes at what someone is saying. Thanks for the reminder!


    1. Well you got it perfectly Stephanie. The idea is to look within and transform/evolve our thinking/perception and reflect back at our coworkers/teams/management. It is in our hands to change how we look at our work place and our colleagues.


  2. Just like you write, Khalid, it’s easy to think that everybody else is stupid. But, as you write too – because you are not stupid, we had better “sweep our own house before complaining about our neighbour’s” as we say in Sweden. But, it takes some courage and self-confidence to be able to challenge yourself and give others the benefit of a doubt. If they don’t understand what they say, it might be because you don’t explain in a way that help them understand. Remember, if communication fails, the fault is always on the sender’s side. I love being proven wrong. Because it means that I learn something. I get smarter than I was before. And the day I stop learning is the day I start dying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed Peter and that becomes a pain sometimes when ‘we’ are proven wrong or corrected. Very few of see it as a learning opportunity. The idea here it to realize that everyone is write and it is the perception which creates a rift and we all need to rise above that. And the best way to arrive at one PoV is to have a seamless and fluid communication. Rather than forming opinions we need to communicate more. Thank you for your reflection here Peter – always love reading your thoughts.


    2. Peter, I like that Swedish saying, “sweep our own house before complaining about our neighbour’s” … I’ll remember that and use it myself. Thx.


  3. As Martin Daly said to you on FB –Martin & I are friend, and after he commented your link showed on my feed and I was curious– the only “offensive” bit of this article is using a word like “stupid” to describe people; to be honest, I don’t see anything offensive in the use of the word either. Unfortunately, we live in a society where most people then to take every form of criticism like a personal attack, and no one has the backbone to stop for a minute and think that perhaps what you’re saying is not a personal attack, but an overall view on a situation or performance.

    Personally, the only gripe I have with what you said is this: “We always try and measure up people with our capabilities and our expectations.” Because time has taught me to not expect of others what I expect of myself I do not measure people in the same way I measure myself, (and yes, I know I don’t measure them against me because I make a conscious effort not to every time it feels like someone’s performance is not measuring up to my expectations) if I did that I would end up frustrated more often than not. What I do expect, is for people to do what their job description requires them to do, however condense that description might be, that’s all I ask. If you can’t even do that, then it will be difficult not to think that “I” really am much better.

    My line of work requires me to work closely with other teams and pay attention to details, if someone else in another team is not paying attention to details, and it falls on me time and again to make sure they do their job, you can bet it won’t be long before I start looking down on their ability to perform even the most basic tasks. Chances are I won’t tell them I think they’re dim witted, but I will end up scrutinizing their work a lot more closely, in the end they won’t like the scrutiny and I will feel more and more justified in thinking, just as Scar did in The Lion King, that I am surrounded by Idiots. 😉



    1. Yes I understand and subconsciously the thought of people around us, not being efficient/smart, creeps in. While you are able to not measure people up with your capabilities, it remains one of the biggest challenges in a bigger organizations like IBM. There isn’t a purpose to it, but, out minds are somewhere tuned to it. We always compare performances, results..always willing to find out and stack leader boards and judge, who is better and who isn’t. We need more employees to understand that real problem isn’t people, all the time, but our own manifestation in out minds.

      Well everyone around me is awesome, I swear. People like Peter, Martin, Stephanie, Kanisha and many more are wonderful IBMers who make the social fabric so super colorful.

      I loved the pic from The Lion King. Thank you Linda for your thoughts.

      I would be interested in knowing – if you have to make others understand, the way you have aligned your thinking, how would you do that?


      1. I find that when I place focus on the problem and the solution rather than the people it is easier to escape the trap of personalizing my critiques and that usually helps to defray judgement because then, as a team, we have common objectives and can all attack the challenge rather than each other.


  4. While I read your post, I could visualize a few times when I got stressed or frustrated because someone was not on the same page as me or at the same level because of reasons unknown to me but for this very reason I could have momentarily considered them at an intellectually lesser level than me. BUT THEN, I thought of the many situations, when I was surrounded by some of the smartest people and brilliant leaders and what made them so great was the fact that they treated me as an equal, gave me a helpful nudge or some great advice.

    What I want to say is that if what you get stressed about most is that you are surrounded by “stupid” people, isn’t that an awesome opportunity to bring them upto your level. May be its an opportunity presented to you to grow. I was watching Evan Almighty yesterday, I know you must be wondering what a film to quote but in it God asks Evan’s wife. When someone asks God for patience, does God give him patience or gives him opportunities to be patient. When you ask God for courage, will he give you courage or give you situations to gain it?

    So when you want to work with intelligent people, the answer is really quite simple. You now have an opportunity to raise the level of intelligence and intellect amongst your colleagues or peers.


    1. Well said Kanisha and we all keep learning as we grow, and work with many people from different cultures and holding different positions in organizational chain. The idea is no one is more intelligent or stupid – we all are equal. It is just that somewhere we create those ideas in our brains and that is what one should avoid. I may be good in excel but you may be good in Project Management – hence we all have different abilities and skills and together we all can succeed.

      I like that movie too!


  5. As Linda said, here is my quote from FB “I can see why this can be perceived as controversial, purely because you’ve used the term “stupid” – perhaps if you had used something more neutral like “everyone around me is wrong and I’m right” – but the blog itself is excellent (as always sir!) and hopefully inspiring people to “THINK!” – that’s my two cents/pennies!” – and looking at people’s comments there is a great amount of thinking being done here :-). I tend to agree that sometimes things can be perceived by people in one way, and others in another – so just as a thought, when I write in Social Media (which is not as often as I would like!) I tend to think as if I’m in a room of 156 and more different nationalities and cultures…and I look to try to use as neutral language as possible, but still try to get the message, impact and idea of what I’m trying to say across….it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do (at least for me!) and those that are successful at it can sometimes reach across Geo and cultural boundaries. However, on the flip side, sometimes it’s good to be a little controversial to stimulate conversations like this……..!!! 😀


  6. Very well put Martin. I agree, we all should be careful with our language, however, the title of this blog was thought about and then came into being. I wanted something which makes people notice and also how people talk, in reality. However the crux is that, one needs to improve their way of thinking than blaming others.


  7. Effective communication is such a delicate dance. In written communication, as in face-to-face communication, we often listen in order to reply rather than to understand. Written communication has an additional burden to meet the challenge of innuendo and modulation your voice can provide to help convey your message, in which case, the receiver may not fully understand what is being ‘said’. We rely on emoticons to help us modulate our statements.

    There is a challenge for all of us to ask questions to clarify and integrate into our thinking what is being communicated in social media, before responding with our experiences and perspectives. Over the years of my career I found some people to be quite skilled at asking the right questions and rather than replying with a fixed perspective of what they thought, they first asked clarifying questions, in order to develop a clear understanding of what is being said. My favorite tactic is hearing someone say, “It might be me, but could you explain that to me again, on a third grade level?” You can actually influence the direction of the discussion with well formulated questions. This approach decreases defensive positioning and helps bring two perspectives closer together.

    Deciding that those around you are ‘stupid’ is really the coward’s way out of a disagreement. It takes determination and courage to hold your tongue when you want to lash out, and instead diplomatically question the situation rather than the people who are busy defending their own perspectives. As with dancing where there are followers and leaders, leading in communication could be enhanced by use of thought provoking questions that guide the steps of the dance. And it takes a lot of practice to develop the level of artistry and partnership where everyone can anticipate the steps of the dance of effective communication.


    1. Wow Paula – this is it. You nailed it. Being arrogant and attributing others stupid is the first characteristics of someone who lacks vision and ability to do introspection. We all excel at one level or the another and yet we all need to stay grounded. Disagreements are a part of life and what makes one a true leader is to embrace the differences and people to move along.

      Thank you for your brilliant thoughts. You know I respect you and now I do more! Cheers


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