Have you ever been told you are naive?
And the first thought that sprung to mind when someone said that – either directly or indirectly was, how dare they think I am naive snd gullible! Were they saying you are ignorant or unsophisticated? Artless or callow? After all perhaps you viewed yourself as knowledgeable and experienced. Maybe intelligent and wise. Sometimes a leery comment can offer an opportunity to weigh up something uttered with skepticism and distrust. This Norwegian proverb, offers some clear advice, ‘Not all the words that were ever uttered are worth weighing on golden scales.’
Did you immediately take a comment negatively – that someone was saying you are clueless or inexperienced?
Portraying an openness or simplicitiy can sometimes mean others may view you as weak, but recently I have been thinking about this carefully. Criticism has the power to allow us to reflect on key areas in our lives. And consider whether or not we can build our weaknesses into strengths.
After much deliberation, I have unearthed 4 positive characteristics to seeming clueless, gullible or naive…
1| The Risk Taker
You take risks that others would fear to dream, never mind attempt. Because nothing about being naive means you are stupid. Quite the contrary, you have a braveness, because you take on tasks no one else would dare venture into (in case they fail or look daft). And undertake assignments, as you never think too much about preconceptions, that those who don’t volunteer for a project would. Is it a blissful unawareness or simply a happy risk you are willing to take. Even if you might be talked about. As the English proverb goes, ‘No risk, no gain’. You would never learn and attain new experiences if you weren’t viewed as naive and took a risk.
2| The Curious One
Being curious can often seem like there is a large aspect of willful ignorance. Where you want to learn and are curious enough to experiment and think about situations as a playing field of mindful observation.
Too nice maybe, inexperienced in a sphere of influence perhaps, not street wise in every dimension, I might agree. But judiciously you know why and what you are doing and where you going. A Chinese proverb indicates ‘A curious woman is capable of turning around the rainbow just to see what is on the other side’.
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3| Acting with caution
Is different to being cautious. A Hebrew proverb says it more amply, ‘A basic rule of caution: don’t be overly cautious’.
The naive believe everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. (Proverbs 14:15) However, you can also be the person who takes everyone at face value. And because you have an inquiring mind, you seek to expand your knowledge base, by placing yourself in situations that others may view as senseless or unintelligent.
Striking the balance takes time. To move from a trusting heart to being more cautious to acting with caution. Naiveté could come across as being too kind or lacking enthusiasm or ignorant to passive rather than assertive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I fit straight into this category and sometimes I find it difficult to be horrible to people. But by no means does that make me appear weak or inept. Where someone else might use a more firmer boundary or tactic, I would give someone the benefit of the doubt.
4| The Observer
Being naive does not mean you are foolish or unsuspecting. Perhaps this could be a strength that boosted with a little courage and confidence might turn out to be an amazing strategy you use in your day to day business interactions.
There is room to be both gullible (believing) and perceptive (discerning) at the same time. I love this African proverb which says, ‘If you observe attentively you will even find wisdom in shadows’.
In time these 4 characteristics will benefit you to gain prudence for being the naive, in addition to knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 1:4) In becoming more savvy, this does not mean you cannot wear your heart on your sleeve, or be too nice or kind. None of these traits of your character are weaknesses, but they assist you in becoming wiser. And reinforce the need to be cautious rather than arrogant and careless. (Proverbs 14:16)
So if someone views you as naive, if they are cannot tell you specifically why they think that. Then gain prudence in knowing you may not lack common sense, be simple minded or have no convictions. Nor be proficiently knowledgeable in every area and topic in life, similiar to comparing apples to oranges. You are not incompetent as a manager if you are a trained as a lawyer. You learn by seeking out know-how’s in a field. After all, by questioning naiveté, you have gained wisdom by interogating the motives of their statement.
Share your thoughts…
Do you think you hold an idealistic view of the world? Have you been called naive and gullible at some point in your life that costed you?