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Wise Statements


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Conversational Traps > Wise Statements

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



There is sometimes a tendency in conversation, and especially in social media, to offer wise sayings and quotes from the good and the great. While occasional such quotes may be appreciated, it is easy for regular quoting to become an irritation.

It may also be unappreciated if you offer your own wisdoms, particularly if you listen little and pronounce often.


That won't work. Here's a better way...

Well, as Aristotle said, ...

Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them but you know they're there. I'm a good friend, John.


When we offer wisdom to others, whether it is our own it a second-hand quotation, it can be challenging to ask why we are doing this. To suggest that we are wise is to suggest that others are not, which can make any pronouncement, no matter how truly wise it is, sound like arrogance.

The ostensible reason for offering wisdom is to help the other person understand, learn and develop as a person. You are helping them to have an 'aha' moment of realisation, perhaps as you once had. A good 'aha' can shortcut a long conversation or even painful further experience.

Yet offered wisdom is not always appreciated. Perhaps the person is so set in their thinking they still do not understand. Offering wisdom can also be a part of a status game, where the quoter is claiming greater knowledge, experience or ability that puts them in a superior position to the target person. The person listening may feel stupid and dislike this being implied.

As a result, offered wisdom may be rejected, especially if it this approach too often and even more so if the speaker is seen as lacking understanding, boasting or seeking status.

To get wisdom accepted, listen first, showing concern for the person and a desire to fully appreciate their situation. Offer wisdom tentatively, letting them decide if it makes sense for them. Describing how the understanding helped you or others can also help.

See also

Personality Disorders

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