Aptitude vs Personality: Verbal, Written, and Other Forms of Intelligence
Everyone's intelligence shows through in different ways. Just because someone does not appear to be intelligent or professional on the outside does not mean that their brains are not working on the inside in some capacity. A person can write eloquently with proper grammar but speak using simple mistakes that have become part of common everyday language. Such phenomena should not be condemned as a lack of intellect but embraced as the realization that who we are is not defined by our preceived mental capacity but by the strengths we exhibit in our most practiced areas. It is a shame that not everyone can be accepted in this way for who they really are.
Most people tend to write the way they speak or speak the way they write; to them, they are one and the same. However, some people tend to keep the two in separate realms; to me, that is what makes us human. When we converse, we usually drop the formalities and become comfortable with who we are when we are not constantly being tested. Serving as a waitress to a room full of English professors, I must have appeared to be a troglodyte to be pitied and looked down upon. While I have never won any awards for my writing, my academic records will show that I am no slouch in that area. In that same vein, a quick glance or a puzzled look do not indicate a lack of effort or intelligence but a calculating and pensive situation. In an environment where quick responses are expected and only the leader's point of view is valid, the only pity I see here is that people aren't given time to think, leeway to try another angle, or even the benefit of the doubt.
Aptitude and personality can be two very distinct attributes in a person's life. People with similar aptitudes may not have the same interests and in some cases find themselves bitter enemies in ways that have little to do with academia. Of course, in an academic setting, grades will almost always be a factor, but personality clashes will almost always precede aptitude qualifications when it comes to advancement in one's field - in other words, playing favorites in a social game. If they don't like the way your intelligence shows through (or if there is jealousy involved), then that can unfairly hold you back. Mostly the problem is with the kind of intelligence that goes unrecognized in the first place and not the politics, but both are common factors that are considered when decisions need to be made.
In the long run, it's more important to think about who you become rather than what you become. Not everyone can become a psychiatrist, but everyone can be a good listener and a good person who cares about other people and their problems. Each person has certain strengths and certain weaknesses which must not be held against them. In order to be more accepting, certain values and expectations must be changed (that, and the economy has to get better). When the going gets tough, these values must not change even though the perspective must and will. We need people to support each other with confidence; if no one else believes in us, how are we supposed to believe in ourselves? In both academia and the workplace, we need to spend less time condemning people for their mistakes or perceived shortcomings and more time building confidence so that people can believe in themselves no matter how their intelligence exhibits itself. You may not think it's your job to care, but I would say it is your duty as a human being to care.
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