On a lovely Saturday night I was at a friend’s crib trying to make conversation with strangers. Being a faux-faux perfectionist, this was excruciatingly painful as I don’t think I am a great conversation starter (but I am better than many). Anyhow, I was sipping on something (I forget what it was), trying my darn best to look at ease whilst conjuring in my head brilliant topics for conversation. “So what do you do again, sorry I missed that?” I smile almost flirtatiously but not nearly flirtatious. “I’m a consultant”, and with this reply our wonderful (and somewhat dry) conversation begins. He is a nice guy and he goes into all intricacies of his job. One thing I vividly recall was this comment; “It is not a question of how much you know, but how well you can BS”. My eyes lit. Someone who is able to admit this definitely gets an “A” in my book. Not only is he a BSer, he is aware of his skills and he knows how to play it to his advantage. Genius! ….And so what started as an innocent lets-not-make-this-an-awkward-moment conversation fueled my quest to peel the layers and discover the core art of BSing.
I consulted with subject matter experts on the definition of a BSer;
Mulberry: “Someone who speaks in vague terms to give the appearance of having in-depth knowledge of that which they have minimal familiarity with.”
Chhoyster: “Someone who is good at talking out of their butt – He/she can speak about absolute nonsense but make it sound good.”
SirReal: “Someone who speaks without knowing what they speak of.”
Dubree: “One who conveys something that is not true in a factual matter.”
Now, BSing isn’t necessarily a bad trait. I for one can relate to how BSing has saved my butt on occasion– especially when shit hits the fan – and I’m almost sure that all of you have at some point(s) in your life BSed. However, BSing in the hands of the wrong BSer is catastrophic (and quite sad from a spectator’s view); hence the bad connotation that often comes with it. We find bad BSers everywhere; in our classrooms and workplaces; people who don’t know how to finagle the bagel – for lack of better terms. They go on and on often to their own demise.
Do I propose a solution to this endemic? Heck no! I am a true believer of survival of the fittest and I relish in the spirit of true competition (and tint of sabotage), so if my enemy (I suppose ‘opponent’ is more PC) is a self absorbed wack BSer, then all the better for me (evil laughter).
What does it take to be a BSer? I say;
- It takes one with confidence to actually pull it off.
- Besides the lack of understanding, and/or the mental capacity to understand the subject matter, a BSer must have a suave delivery.
- A good BSer must be a good listener so as to cherry pick ideas from those who actually know their stuff.
- A good BSer must give the impression that he or she knows enough to impress the smartest person in the room.
- A good BSer must know when and how to give credit to those who actually know the details of what is being discussed.
- Most important a good BSer must know when to shut up (silence is golden).
To summarize, excellent BSers have confidence, suave delivery, are good listeners who give the right impression; give credit where it’s due and finally shut up when necessary. So this is my take on the topic. …But then again I might be just be BSing. J
Recommended Literature: On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt – I haven’t read the book but I think it is amazing that there is a book like this out there.