How can an intelligent person not come off as boasting?

Elon Musk was speaking to some of his engineers at Tesla during a very difficult time and he said:

“I’m available twenty four seven to so’…”

He paused briefly and instead said:

“to help solve problems”

It was very obvious the statement was going to be… “I’m available twenty four seven to solve problems”. The absence of help in that statement could have sent off completely different vibes. So that’s the idea… The way you say what you say especially where it involves the input of others – that’s very important.

More hacks like:

Using we instead of I:

We will figure a way out, eventually”

Using one instead of and me:

“If one could find out what the root problem is, it would be a lot easier for one to solve it”

Suggest more, declare less:

Perhaps we should consider applying a more effective business model”

“What if we tried to attack from their weaker angle?”

Don’t say better or worse, say why it is so:

“Is there not a cheaper way to go about this?”

“From the calculations, this method is more cost-effective than the other one”

Avoid conclusions, try possibilities:

“It’s not unlikely that this plan would fail”

“It’s very possible that this idea will survive those challenges, unlike those ones”

“It appears that the method we have employed so far should be improved”


All of this is great when you’re working in/with your team or your close friends and family. People will focus more on your solution than your words and you would still be respected for your insightful inputs. But…

…You need to understand that no matter what, people will get your intentions mixed up – especially those not close to you. Some of them will realize the truth if you are fortunate to have an opportunity to explain yourself – and if they are willing to reach an understanding. However, don’t bet on this for the most of people. You’ll even be misunderstood every now and then by your closest friends – that’s fine too.


Beyond interactions with people who share a common goal, I would say, express yourself as you are convinced is right. Respect people, but respect humanity more. You will lose everything if you lose your originality. Don’t be intimidated not to share your ideas, and the closer you are to the truth, the more opposition you will naturally attract.

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