I have been having an amusing and distracting twitter conversation this week about how to look smart in front of the various different tribes of development specialists. Here’s a few tips to instantly up your credibility no matter who you are meeting with…
If you are meeting a social development expert, no matter what the topic, be sure to ask if they have considered it through a ‘gendered lens’.
In meetings with evaluation experts ALWAYs question the credibility of the counterfactual. If that doesn’t work, you can resort to questioning the external validity.
Make social scientists think you are one of them by dropping the word epistemology into any discussion. For example, try opening a sentence with the phrase “Epistemologically speaking,…” but be sure to practice this beforehand because if you come out with a few too many syllables all your efforts will have been wasted. “Normative” is another good social science word to throw in and is particularly useful for throwing doubt on someone’s opinion while maintaining the facade that you are just upholding objectivity i.e. “hmm… isn’t that a rather normative stance you are taking?”
People from IDS will invariable nod enthusiastically if you say “I think we need to unpack this a little further”; ODI types will be more impressed by you alluding to political economy analysis and/or complexity theory; and those working for DFID will love you if you mention value for money in every second sentence.
And of course, everybody’s favourites: the economists – it is just too easy to tease them for their impenetrable jargon. There are so many good economist catchphrases that it is hard to know where to start but I particularly liked @otis_read’s suggestion of “wow, interesting project, except for obvious endogeneity problem” and, from @fp2p: Look em in eye & say “I’m not convinced by your elasticities”
Have a great weekend – some slightly more serious blogs coming up next week.