How many times have you been in conversation with someone, and they use a word you don't know the meaning of, or mention a concept you're unacquainted with, and you just keep nodding, saying "yep...." or "oh yeah, for sure..." thereby giving the tacit impression you comprehend exactly what they're saying?
When, in reality, you couldn't even remotely define what they just said if, heaven forbid, they actually stopped and asked you?
You've done this a bunch of times, right?
I've done it, too. More than I can count on two hands.
I think it's because we fear that we look stupid when we ask questions, so we sate our pride by feigning understanding.
While certainly not unique to this present age, we live in an era nonetheless where it's "in vogue" to have all the information, to be the one in the group who explains the concept rather than the one asking the questions.
But the reality is that, at least for these situations, "pretending you get it" is not the better part of wisdom.
There's so much to be learned and fantastic discourse to be had when we're honest about not understanding something.
If you're unsure of the meaning of a word someone uses, or you simply don't understand a topic/concept that's brought into the conversation, stop the speaker and ask straight up, "What does that word mean?" or "Wait, can you explain that?" or "What do you mean, exactly?" or "Why?"
I struggled to do this for a long time. And the first time I did it, I felt like vomiting. The root of this hesitation was nothing more than pride and insecurity, and it was incredibly freeing to rip that root out by getting comfortable with opening up and asking questions during my moments of uncertainty.
Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't think I am. I encourage you to ask a clarifying question the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.
And you know what? Not only will YOU find it freeing, but everyone else in proximity will, too. In a society full of pseudo-intellectuals and wannabe philosophers, it's a breath of fresh air when someone in the group is honest about their misunderstanding.
Besides, who ever likes the know-it-all, anyway?
Don't pretend like you know. You just may learn a thing or two.