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Knowledge and Wisdom: What's the Difference?

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I've done a lot of thinking about knowledge and wisdom. Many use the term interchangeably. Couldn't be further from the truth. Here are my 12 key differences. What do you think?

  1. Knowledge is knowing what to say, wisdom is knowing when to say it.
  2. Knowledge is what goes in, wisdom is what goes out.
  3. Knowledge is telling others what to do, wisdom is articulating why it needs to be done.
  4. Knowledge is solving problems for others, wisdom is helping others solve their problems.
  5. Knowledge is providing answers, wisdom is asking questions.
  6. Knowledge prioritizes being right, wisdom prioritizes relationships.
  7. Knowledge is meant to impress others, wisdom is meant to help others.
  8. Knowledge inundates others with data, wisdom helps others understand data.
  9. Knowledge is about researching others, wisdom is about personal experience.
  10. Knowledge is about doing things right, wisdom is about doing the right things.
  11. Knowledge is taking a position on an issue, wisdom is understanding the implications of the position.
  12. Knowledge is about words, wisdom is about words backed up by actions.
Posted on: October 23, 2023 12:34 PM | Permalink

Comments (15)

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Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Lonnie
Your question is very interesting

I distinguish 3 levels:
- Information
- Knowledge
- Wisdom

Information, nowadays, is accessible to everyone (just go to the internet and search). Example: Cooking recipe

Knowledge is the ability to use information to solve and/or apply it to concrete situations. Example: Following a cooking recipe when preparing a meal

Wisdom is the application of principles to knowledge. Example: cook with 3 Michelin stars

Abdelfadil Mostafa Abdelfadil Mohammed Dubai, Du, United Arab Emirates

Jihad Hamdan Projects manager| Arrand engineering consultants Beirut , Haret Hrek, Jem, Palestine, State Of

Jenelle Oberholtzer Functional Architect II| TalenTech Digital Mechanicsburg, Pa, USA
I loved your contrast of the qualities which distinguish knowledge from wisdom! I believe wisdom is obtained through experience and involves the understanding of how to leverage the knowledge gleaned to optimize desired outcomes. I agree wisdom is not simply the application of the knowledge through action; it is the in depth understand which enables the wise individual to know how to manifest a vision into reality! Great read!

Emily Centofanti Australia
I resonate with your view and commend you on being able to articulate the differences very clearly. Can I add another thought; to use wisdom may require a certain level of emotional intelligence. Thank you!

hamdy donia alhussan Tanta, Gh, Egypt

Tiago Lourenco MSc, PMP Candidate Green Project Manager, Founder| Structured PM London, Eng, United Kingdom
In essence, what I took from this post is that, knowledge can be attained by anyone who opens a book or observes behaviours. On the other hand, wisdom is maturity, it’s taking your knowledge and adding your experiences, mistakes, memories, confidence, emotional intelligence and mixing it all up. This mixture will show wisdom, the kind of wisdom only someone who’s lived a life can recognise and administer.

Laurie May Bautista Projects Delivery Engineer| RED SEA HOUSING SERVICES Dubai, Du, United Arab Emirates
Knowledge is what you know, like facts and skills. Wisdom is using that knowledge wisely to make good decisions and solve problems. Knowledge gives you the basics, while wisdom helps you understand things better and make smarter choices.

Xinsen Liao Shanghai, SH, China
Knowledge help me observe at the world and take money

Surupa Chakravarty Senior Business Consultant| PwC Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Carlos Moralejo Lozano Madrid, Spain
Great summary of complex concepts, thank you Lonnie.

Md. Golam Rob Talukdar Project Manager| AWR Development (BD) Ltd. Cox's Bazer , Bangladesh
Thank you , Knowledge is power ,

Reshma Rizvi Scientific Project Manager| University Of Saskatchewn Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Wonderful differentiation--wisdom helps to use knowledge effectively and precisely, thank you, Lonnie!

Md. Golam Rob Talukdar Project Manager| AWR Development (BD) Ltd. Cox's Bazer , Bangladesh
The difference between knowledge and wisdom can be thought of in terms of **data** versus **insight**. Knowledge is like having the raw data, while wisdom is the ability to distill that data into insights and informed actions. Here's a concise comparison:

- **Knowledge** is the accumulation of facts and information. It's often theoretical or procedural, like knowing how to perform a task or understanding the principles behind a concept.

- **Wisdom**, however, is the application of knowledge in a judicious and practical way. It involves the ability to make sound judgments and decisions based on the knowledge one has.

In essence, knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. Wisdom is the appropriate application of knowledge to achieve a positive outcome. It's about making the right choices based on understanding, experience, and insight.

Michael Browning Director, Cybersecurity| Vanderbilt University Nashville, USA
Great insight - thank you for sharing!

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