How to Deal With Dumb People

Three Parts:Adjusting Your PerspectiveBeing Smart in the MomentNot Letting Them Get to You

You see them standing in front of you at the grocery store. Maybe you've come across them in your office, school - or worse - even in your extended family! They are dumb people. And unfortunately, they are everywhere. But that doesn't mean you have to let them get to you or spend hours being frustrated by their complete inability to be rational human beings and to "get it." You can't always ignore them, but you can find an effective and un-soul-crushing way to deal with them. So how do you do it? Just follow along.

Part 1
Adjusting Your Perspective

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    Lower your standards. This one is tough, but very important. Part of the reason that you may find yourself constantly frustrated by the stupidity in the world is because you have unrealistic expectations. Different people may have different backgrounds, different opinions or different priorities in their life. Remind yourself that the "average" person isn't going to meet your high expectations of how a person should think and act, and lower your standards accordingly.
    • If you don't expect people to be sharp, respectful people, then you'll be pleasantly surprised when they are -- instead of being constantly disappointed when they don't meet your expectations.
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    Try to see any situation from their perspective. Another way to change your approach to the persons who are frustrating you is to consider the situation from their points of view. Sure, you may think that there's only one way to view gun control, or that you just have to be right about being a vegetarian, but before you get set in your ways, make sure you have a reasonable grasp of the argument from the other side, and try to see that there really may be another side of the story.
    • Also, seeing where the person is coming from can help you understand his or her world view -- if he grew up in a very conservative area while you grew up in Berkeley, then yeah, you're not going to see eye-to-eye on all of the issues.
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    Understand that not everyone has the same advantages, genetically or environmentally. Both genetics and opportunities can make a difference to overall "smarts." One of the reasons some people appear smarter than others may be that they came from a loving home, got or are getting a good education, and that they haven't been stuck having to take care of family members, working a part-time job in high school, or taking on other responsibilities that kept them from spending so much time becoming a smarty pants. When a stupid person frustrates you, just ask yourself if the person had all of the best opportunities -- chances are, you'll see that this is not the case.
    • Intelligence is not determined by education or family or wealth or love . However, development of skills and knowledge can be influenced by one's life experiences and opportunities.
    • Reminding yourself to take each person on a case-by-case basis will make you less frustrated, because you'll stop constantly asking yourself why this person isn't acting just like you are.
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    Don't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. As Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This means that you should consider the fact that the person you're dealing with isn't really dumb, though he or she may be dumb in the one or two areas where you expect him to be smart. The person next to you in your math class who can't add may be a wonderful poet; the person who can't get your latte order right may be a killer musician. Stop thinking that there's only one way to be smart or dumb and you'll start to see that people are capable of more than you think.[1]
    • Think about it: if people can be only smart or dumb in one regard, then there may be people out there who don't think YOU are very smart. And that can't be true, can it?
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    Understand that you probably won't be able to change their minds. This is another important point to get before you get yourself mixed up with people you disagree with, especially if they are close-minded. You may think that reason or sheer facts will win out every time, and that the other person will walk away thinking, "Wow, I never thought of it that way..." after you've given him or her a double-dose of your logic. However, this is not always going to happen, and you may get frustrated over this.[2]
    • If you realize that, while you may have very valid and reasonable opinions, you won't be able to convince the person of your point of view very easily, then you will stop trying. And if you stop trying to make the other person see your point, then you will be much less likely to get frustrated.
    • Remember that your goal is not to make the close-minded person agree with you; it's to make yourself stay calm and sane while dealing with him or her.
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    Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is power. Especially when you're dealing with people who don't have any. If you want to deal with dumb people to the best of your ability, then you should get your facts straight. Read as much as you can, listen to informative podcasts, watch and read the news, and make sure you have a firm grasp of a concept before you start arguing about it. The more facts, statistics, and talking points you know, the easier you'll be able to shut a stupid person down.
    • Though your goal shouldn't necessarily be to prove that you're right when you're talking to a dumb person (what's the point, anyway?), the more the person sees that you've done your research, the less likely he'll be to engage with you.

Part 2
Being Smart in the Moment

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    Avoid controversial topics. If you want to deal with dumb people in the moment, then you should avoid anything that can upset them, make them angry, or make them start a crusade to prove that you're wrong. If you know that this person is pretty stupid and has pretty stupid opinions, then why bother talking about something serious -- which may mean a lot to you. Just stick to the pleasantries, ("Hi, how are you?") if you have to be around the person on a regular basis, and don't bother getting into the highly-debatable topics.
    • Even if you know this person has stupid opinions on controversial topics and you just want to "get him," avoid the temptation. It's not worth it -- not for you or your blood pressure.
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    Kill 'em with kindness. If a person is acting exceptionally dumb, then chances are, being nice to that person may be the last thing on your mind. Which is precisely why you should act as nice as possible. If you're as nice as possible, then the behavior will disarm and possibly confuse the dumb person, leaving him or her with little to do but be nice back and to stop being so darn stupid. If you're rude, condescending, or even mean, then that will encourage the person to continue to be as dumb as possible. Just grit your teeth and be nice, no matter how much it hurts, and the dumb person will start to annoy you much less.
    • Remember that it's much easier to be kind and polite than to be mean and nasty. Being mean is bad for your spirit and stress levels, and you're doing your own mental well-being a favor by being as nice as much as you can.
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    Stay away from pointless debates. This is related to avoiding controversial topics. If the dumb person happens to bring up a controversial topic and proceeds to share his particularly dumb opinion on the matter, resist the urge to jump in and prove that person wrong. Be polite, say something like, "You're entitled to your opinion," or "How interesting," without mentioning that you completely disagree. Then, change the topic or excuse yourself.
    • There's absolutely no point in engaging in a debate with a dumb person, even if you think it'll make you feel temporarily relieved.
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    Keep your emotions in check. Stupid people are professionals at making other people upset or enraged. But from now on, you won't let stupid people get to you like this -- there's simply no point. If you want to be the dominant person in the conversation, then you have to keep your cool; being in control of your emotions is smart. You don't want to end up looking like the stupid one just because you couldn't stay in control of your feelings.
    • Be patient. It may take a little longer for a dumb person to get it. Don't get angry and frustrated right away -- give the person a chance.
    • If you feel yourself getting upset at something the person is saying, just chant this person is stupid, this person is stupid, this person is stupid in your head as much as necessary until you realize there's no point in caring so much about what this person is saying.
    • If you find yourself getting angry, count backwards from fifty, count your breaths, or excuse yourself to go for a walk -- do whatever you can to calm down before you have to face the person again -- if you have to face the person at all.
    • Don't give a dumb person the satisfaction of knowing that he or she can have so much power over you. If he sees that he has such a strong effect on you, then he will feel like the smarter person.
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    Ask them to clarify their opinions with facts. If you're really frustrated with a dumb person, then you can make him or her stop talking by asking him to support his opinion. It's likely that this person has a lot of silly ideas that he or she can't back up. Asking him or her to do so will often stop him in his tracks and will keep the conversation from escalating. Here are some polite things to say to make the person stop talking:.[3]
    • "Oh, really? Where did you read that?"
    • "Are you basing your ideas off of the article in the New York Times last week? Because it actually seemed to say the opposite..."
    • "How interesting. Do you know what percentage of people are actually like this?"
    • "How fascinating that you have such strong opinions on California. How much time have you spent there? You must have lived there for a while to form such a compelling perspective about it."
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    Ignore them if there's no better option. Though ignoring people is pretty rude and immature, there are some cases where this is the best option. If you're in a group, for example, and don't want to leave the social interaction just because of one dumb person, you can just act like the person isn't there, or not respond to any of his comments. Chances are, if his opinions are really so stupid, that someone else will step up to bat -- or better yet, that other people will ignore him, too.
    • If the person addresses you with a dumb comment, just smile and act like he said something pleasant instead of engaging with him.
    • Though ignoring a dumb person isn't exactly taking the high road, it's a great way to keep a dumb person from talking to you.
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    Walk away whenever you can. Walking away is a fantastic option whenever it's possible. Of course, you can't just walk away from a dumb boss unless you want to put your job in jeopardy, you can certainly walk away from a dumb person who is yelling at you at the grocery store, or leave a situation where a dumb person is just trying to annoy you. Walking away is also a great way to make yourself calm down if you're starting to feel yourself getting angry.
    • Just say, "Excuse me, I have to get going," if the dumb person is more reasonable, or walk away without saying anything if there's no point in explaining yourself.

Part 3
Not Letting Them Get to You

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    Don't take it personally. It may be nearly impossible to not take something really stupid personally, especially if it was intended to hurt you. However, if you really want to deal with dumb people the best way possible, then you can't let them get to you and have to learn to let whatever they say roll off your back. If you take it personally and feel hurt, then you're giving them a power they don't need to have. Just remind yourself that these people are dumb, and their opinions shouldn't matter to you.
    • Your self-worth cannot be dictated by the opinions of a person whose intelligence you don't even respect. Just remember that the next time you let a dumb person make you feel small.
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    Acknowledge their strengths (if they have any). Trying to be positive and giving the dumb person the benefit of the doubt is another great tactic for not letting a dumb person get to you. Sure, maybe your boss isn't so great at communication; but think about how much good he has done for your company overall. Maybe your second cousin is a ditz when it comes to not revealing your personal information in public; but she's awesome when it comes to making you feel better when you've had a bad day.
    • Remind yourself that most "dumb" people aren't all bad, and they do have some positive qualities, too. This is a great thing to remember if you want to stay sane around dumb people, especially if you're dealing with a person you will have to see a lot, like a classmate or a co-worker.
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    Don't complain about them to other people. Sure, your co-worker or frenemy might have said something so amazingly stupid that you feel the urge to tell the ten closest people in your circle of friends all about it. You may even want to send a mass email or text about it, going into all of the details of exactly how stupid this person is. But what good will that do? Sure, people will agree with you and agree that the person is stupid, but in the end, that will only make you feel more riled up, angry, frustrated, and annoyed.
    • And worst of all, that will give the stupid person even more power -- if you really know that the person is stupid and annoying, then you wouldn't spend so much time fretting over what he or she said, would you?
    • If the person really upset you, you can discuss it with one close friend, but don't let it become an obsession or let it ruin your day.
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    Be respectful whenever possible. This may seem impossible in the face of sheer stupidity, but that is precisely why you should be as respectful as possible to a person who is utterly stupid. Treat the person like the Queen of England or the CEO of your company if you have to. Treating the person like a human being who deserves it will let you take the high road -- and will encourage the person to act in a more dignified manner in the future.
    • Resist your first impulse. Sure, you might have thought of the perfect comeback or snappy remark, but remind yourself that it will get you nowhere before you say it.
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    Be grateful for all the smart people in your life (including you!). Dealing with stupid people on a regular basis will make you feel even more grateful for all of the calm, rational, and intelligent people that you know. If you're constantly upset by dumb people, then it's likely because you have a very intelligent group of friends and family members and that you have high standards when it comes to the intelligence of others.
    • Instead of being frustrated by the dumb person in front of you, remind yourself that you're lucky to have such a smart significant other, best friend, mother, or circle of friends or colleagues. This will make you more grateful for the positive people in your life, instead of letting those dumb people get the best of you.


  • Always remain calm.
  • Don't get into much of the conversations; talk seldom so that the other dim-witted person understands.
  • Isolate yourself from the person if necessary.
  • Don't criticize them, and if you do, do so politely, and be patient.


  • Do not be mean. They might not be able to help it or they may not realize what they are doing wrong/not doing right.

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Categories: Social Nuisances