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Dummy-Down

Posted by Sue on September 25, 2009 in Random Thoughts, Self-exploration |

Today I was reading a post by Brad and it occurred to me that what he was talking about sounded a lot like what I accuse my hubs of doing… I call it "dumming-down". My hubs is a smart guy. He can even speak well, when he wants to. Many times I get frustrated listening to him talk to other people because he'll use poor grammar (ain't) and sound like the 'hick' that he's not. He claims it is his way of putting others at ease and many times they'll let their guard down and tell him things they wouldn't normally if they thought he was as or more intelligent than they are.

In recent years I've noticed my younger daughter and son doing the same thing. I realize these family members can talk to anyone about anything and perhaps that is why. Me? I usually am standing there feeling like the one who really doesn't know anything so I have a tendency to keep my mouth shut and only speak when spoken to. Not around my friends or family, but when I'm around other people  I don't know as well.

Is that the secret to having good social skills? Dummy-down? Maybe I need to learn this some day.

5 Comments

  • Hilly says:

    Yes, I think it is the trick. People usually balk when they find out that my major was English and Grammar. I tend to dumb it down and use so much slang. I think it makes me easier to relate to so that is why I do it.

  • Nat says:

    There are whole studies on why we say what we say. Fascinating stuff. I was going to do a masters degree in it, except… well it was time to get a hair cut and get a real job. 😉

    I\’m not sure it\’s dumbing-down, it\’s just using a different register linguistically… a lot of linguistic change come from these…

  • Brad says:

    I think knowing your audience is important. People who can talk to anyone about anything are best at that. Also, I think playing dumb is different than engaging someone in simple terms. I would never say I don’t know the answer to something that I do just to “fit in”. But I don’t lead conversations with in-depth knowledge because it’s presumptuous, boisterous, and most often… boring.

    However, I do love to have geek-out talking sessions with friends who I know are totally on-board with that kind of talk.

  • sizzle says:

    I think it’s more about playing along.

  • Teresa says:

    It\’s a gift. Some people have that ability to look at the people they are with and talk with them in a way that makes them comfortable.

    If you\’re like me and don\’t pick up so well on those cues, it\’s far more difficult. Of course instead of shutting up I talk too much. Heh – nervous tic? Don\’t know.

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