I wrote the popular essay How To Manage Smart People awhile ago, and often heard the feedback: “advice on smart people is easy. Tell us how to work with Stupid people.” I hoped to get to it eventually, but Jason Crawford beat me to it. And he wrote about it in much the way I would have:
Unless you’re a world-class genius (statistically unlikely), you are probably mis-diagnosing people as stupid.
His post is as a series of questions, almost a checklist, for challenging assumptions. If by chance the person you’re working with is a moron, walking through his post will show you how to think more clearly about whatever it is you’re working on and find a better way to deal with it.
Do you fully understand what they’re saying? Or are you talking past each other?
Are you answering the same question? Maybe each of you is answering a different angle on the question (e.g., “what’s our next step?” vs. “what’s the long-term solution?”)
Are you using terms in the same way? Sometimes disagreements come from differing definitions and terminology.
Are you talking completely in abstractions? Give examples, and ask them for examples, to get clear and concrete
Read the whole post. It’s worth reading once a year, and gift for new leaders and managers.