Wait for others to catch onto your ideas.
I work with gifted adults in my private practice as a psychologist. We frequently discuss the characteristics that gifted adults share when we begin to work together. They benefit from exploring how their giftedness makes them different, and how these differences impact others.
Gifted adults are different
Many gifted adults don’t know how they are different when we start to meet. When this is the case, we go slowly so they can learn what their differences are, and so they can appreciate them.
One characteristic we discuss is that gifted adults are often bored in meetings because the pace is too slow. A sentiment I frequently hear is, “Yes! Meetings are boring. Why do they have to last so long? Why does it take so much time to present such simple ideas?”
The assumption gifted adults are making, when they express these sentiments, is that everyone else’s minds work as quickly as theirs do. But this isn’t the case.
Gifted adults grasp ideas more quickly
To illustrate this point, I will ask gifted adults to remember being in grade school. I suggest they chose any grade to focus on, and then we talk about how they sent much time they spent being bored.
My gifted clients confirm they were often bored in grade school. The teacher would give the class 20-minutes to complete a homework assignment, but the gifted children would have it finished in less than five. And then these children would have to spend the next 15 minutes sitting on theirs hands, trying to keep their mouths shut so they didn’t get into trouble for disturbing children that needed to focus on the task at hand.
Gifted adults were bored in school
Gifted children are asked to do things that no adult would tolerate. Try it if you don’t believe me. Try sitting still with no stimulation for 15 minutes.
Generally, for my clients that were gifted children, grade school looked something like this. The teacher would present a new concept on a Monday morning. After a 15-minute introduction, the gifted children would grasp the concept and be ready to move on.
Learning about fractions, for example? The gifted children understood the concept as soon as the pie chart was drawn on the board. Within two or three days, they were exploring how to take fractions of fractions in their heads. They were wrestling with how to take 2/3 of 5/8.
But what did the grade 3 teacher do? She didn’t teach the gifted children how to take fractions of fractions. Instead, she continued to draw 3/4 of a pie on the board, and to explain to the class that each quarter of the pie represented 1/4.
The gifted children quietly died inside a little bit each time these presentations were given. This was their every day. Instead of learning how to take fractions of fractions, the teacher drew a pie chart on the board and showed, over and over again, that 1/2 of the pie was equal to 2/4, which was equal to 4/8.
So, what happens in staff meetings? For gifted adults that were those gifted children, it’s pretty much the same drill. The leader of the meeting introduces a new concept for 15 minutes, and then slowly explains the concept again. The leader understands they must proceed slowly so that everyone in the room will follow the new concepts being presented.
Gifted adults move quickly and can lose their audiences
Gifted adults don’t always comprehend they need to proceed slowly when they present a new idea to an audience. even with their own experiences being bored in the classroom and later in meetings. This makes sense, because gifted adults are happiest when they get to race ahead. If you are gifted, you will recognize yourself in the following three paragraphs.
You will nod your head in agreement when I say that one of life’s greatest pleasures is when you meet another gifted adult and get to exchange ideas with them at lightning speed.
It’s a delight when you discover that the other person has grasped your idea before you have gotten the words out of your mouth, and has come back with an idea that either accurately critiques yours or builds on it, making it better.
And when the exchange continues to build, with new ideas coming fast and furious, you are in heaven. It is infrequent that you get to exchange ideas with another exceptionally bright person, at what is a natural pace for you. It is infrequent that you feel fully understood without having to slow yourself down.
Gifted adults must slow down to communicate effectively
But this is not what the work place looks like for most gifted adults. For the majority, they have to slow themselves down to ensure that their ideas are grasped by their audience.
If you are a gifted adult, you must repeat your ideas over and over again. You must explore new and different ways to express your ideas until you see that they have been grasped. You must break your ideas down into sufficiently tiny pieces so that you can bring your audience along with you.
It is this slowing down that allows you to be a good communicator. When you realize you are gifted, which means, by definition, that you are in the brightest 2.5% or 3% of the population, it will make sense that you need to break your ideas down so that others can grasp them.
Once you have a solid handle on this concept – that you must break down your ideas into sufficiently bite size chunks so that your audience can digest them – you will begin to succeed in a brand-new way at work.
Gifted adults must break their ideas into smaller pieces
If you are gifted and you are attempting to communicate your ideas to others, it will likely be helpful if you can break your ideas down into smaller pieces so that can be comprehended by the people you are attempting to communicate with.
If some of the concepts you are presenting can’t be followed by those you are talking to because they are too complex, which will happen, you might try using analogies they can understand.
If your audience needs you to show them that 1/2 is equal to 2/4, which is equal to 4/8, then illustrate this fact at a speed your audience can follow.
And then, when you are at a dinner party and you discover you are seated beside someone else that is brilliant, by all means run at top speed.
But don’t expect this to happen every day.
— Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta