Living on Tenerife: Unconsciously Incompetent or Just Stupid?

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Life, Spain, Tenerife
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s a famous business tool which we used a lot back in Britain when approaching something new to ourselves or the people we worked with; it’s called the four stages of learning.

These stages consist of – unconscious incompetence (not knowing that you don’t know how to do something), conscious incompetence (knowing that you don’t know how to do something), conscious competence (knowing how to do something if you think about it) and finally unconscious competence (doing something naturally without having to think about it). At that point you’ve successfully learned.

You can apply it to business, life and just about everything. My own view is that to get the most out of life, you regularly have to put yourself into situations where you have to go through this process. It can be challenging, but it keeps life interesting.

It’s also an extremely useful tool to know about when dealing with others – it can help sort out who is and who isn’t professional. There’s nothing wrong with being unconsciously incompetent, it’s part of a natural learning process. However, when someone’s trying to tell you they’re something they’re not, that’s a different kettle of fish.

I could quote you a number of situations where people who were unconsciously incompetent  tried to bullshit me on Tenerife.  The thing about meeting an unconsciously incompetent bullshitter is that the language they’re using can actually tell you the opposite of what they want. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Not so long ago someone tried to convince us the printed word on Tenerife had more clout than the internet. Their rationale was that people over the age of 50 didn’t use the internet, so using it to inform people about Tenerife was a waste of time. This was despite a recent survey showing that over half of Brits aged 45+ now use the internet to research where they plan to visit. It was a perfect example of unconscious incompetence. The internet revolution has changed the world and businesses on Tenerife who haven’t woken up to this are putting themselves in danger. But this person didn’t know that and what’s more their language betrayed them as someone who was out of date with the world beyond these shores.

When it comes to power of the internet, there are still plenty on Tenerife who not only haven’t caught the boat, don’t know that the boat came in, docked, took passengers on board and is steaming out of sight beyond the horizon.

Clearly if you’re reading this, you’ve already got your ticket.

That example was simply unconscious incompetence. Where it can also be stupidity is when it’s something like this.

The other week whilst shopping at La Villa in La Orotava, we discovered it was the first day of the school holidays which meant chaos in the supermarket and madness on the roads. When we left the supermarket at around 1.15pm we got stuck in serious queues and patiently we inched towards the roundabout which led to freedom and home. Canarios, generally speaking, aren’t very good at negotiating roundabouts, but they are considerate. So when we reached the roundabout, a driver coming from the left almost immediately waved for me to join it in front of him. I smiled and drove forward to be greeted by the sound of a horn blaring furiously. An old geezer had pulled out from behind the car that had let me in and tried to nip in front, but found his way blocked by me. He pulled into the queue behind me and then, breaking all sorts of laws, cut up the drivers on the inside lane before drawing level with me where he shook his fist and shouted.

I responded with something like ‘Ay, tonto…hay colas…dumbass’ before noticing that the guy in the car behind was a policeman – thankfully he just shook his head and laughed,

I’ve read that there are a lot of older guys on Tenerife who have never taken a driving test and therefore don’t actually know the laws of the road. Subsequently they can do things we don’t expect and then get annoyed if someone driving properly gets in their way.

This is also unconscious incompetence, but it’s also annoyingly stupid.

  1. Whoever said no-one over 50 uses the internet is talking through his hat. I have a Tenerife related business. I get daily enquiries from people over 50 in the UK who want to move to the island and enjoy a life in the sun while running a small business. These are also the people with disposable income to spend.

    • dragojac says:

      I totally agree Gemma – it just tells you that the person who said it is out of step. Also a very good point about people 50+ having a disposable income. I’ve had dealings with people recently who wanted to more or less ignore this market in favour of trying to attract a much younger clientele. Crazy!

  2. dragojac says:

    Funnily enough I’ve just received an email this morning which mentioned something that made me realise I was doing something that might affect SEO on some of my blogs.

    It was something I would never have thought about in a month of Sundays – and I’ve got to confirm that it’s accurate which is why I’m not saying what it was – but it was a perfect example of unconscious incompetence.

    Ignorance isn’t really bliss.

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