Ever wonder how some of the dumbest people you’ve ever met professionally still seem to make it to the upper tier of their industry?
It’s a pressing question in my mind. And I’m sure yours too. Just how do they do it?
How does a not-so-smart person make themselves look competent enough to fool everyone in the company into thinking they possess any inkling of actual usable intelligence?
Here’s a few rather easy to employ tricks that will have everyone in the company thinking you’re the office genius at the next meeting:
1. Note and nod at a steady pace during important meetings
People who take notes are usually considered smarter than their peers, by default in most cases. It doesn’t matter if you actually write anything of significance here either. Practise your Chinese calligraphy and tell everyone it’s your own special brand of shorthand should anyone ask about it. Shift your eyes around the room and frequently look at everyone, mostly whomever is speaking, and nod considerately whenever they finish a sentence.
Every once in a while mix in a hand-on-chin-nod, where you look down at the table or up to the ceiling and nod pensively, before returning your gaze to those seated around the table. Squint your eyes so any onlookers can see how trapped in thought you are.
This one goes back to those long hard days spent in school listening to the teacher prattle on about history, math, science and other boring topics where we were expected to listen to, and then later have to remember all those random facts the teacher fed us at test and exam time. Wasn’t it always the “teacher’s pet” who seemed to get the best grades? The one taking notes, maintaining eye contact with the teacher, laughing when the teacher made a bad joke, asking lots of questions, etc.?
2. Learn how to convert percentages to fractions – quickly!
This old trick will have everyone hanging on your every word in no time. At the next office meeting, wait for your good ol’ manager to start throwing around a few online marketing numbers from last month, then reframe what ever they say into fractions.
For example, if the boss says “Only 10% of our list RSVP’d for the big expo we’re holding this weekend.”
You quickly and cleverly come back with “So only 1 in 10 of our contacts is actually coming?” Then grumble, maybe write something down and act like your big fractional realization is really disconcerting.
3. Learn how to “Whoa” when your brain starts melting from the heat.
Remember actor Joe Lawrence back when he played big-haired, big brother “Joey” on NBC 90’s comedy “Blossom?” He had that trademark way of saying “Whoa” in that funny way he did, making the whole world laugh?
If the conversation starts to get beyond your level of comprehension, or after everyone but you in the meeting has chimed in with something of interest and you’re sitting there looking like an old shoe, it’s time to give them a “Whoa – let’s take a little step back, shall we?” followed by “What is it we’re actually trying to change/solve/create here?”
You can use this one in a variety of situations, just don’t abuse this trick around the same people too often or it’ll likely backfire and make you look like a space cadet!
4. Wait for someone to say something profound, then copy them
This is like transference in reverse. You’re going to learn to read the room like a seasoned poker player. Look for that opportune moment when everyone is obviously really impressed by something someone said – an idea, revelation, whatever – then you’re going to inject yourself right into the middle of it with the smart folks.
Stand up and hold your hands up so everyone can see you’re going to talk, then say something like “Okay, okay, that’s a great idea/solution/, let me repeat that —” It’s important to repeat whatever was said slowly for true effect, like you’re telling a really poignant story that has really hit home with you and everyone else.
5. Always present questions about scalability
“Can we actually scale this thing?” This is business-speak for “Can we actually make any darned money with this idea/product?” There are so many things, in so many departments that meet the criteria of being “scalable” that it’s almost impossible to use this old trick and have it backfire, making you look like the office dunce.
Any concept that has the ability to grow into something bigger can be considered something with the potential to scale. You can also use “Exactly how are we going to scale this thing?” or “Has an idea like this ever been scaled successfully before?” – as you see fit. This is such a powerful way to make yourself look smart, really strengthening the impression that you’re committed to the company’s bottom line of maximizing profits and growth.
Tips to Share?
Having below-average intelligence doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer the embarrassment of being labeled the office dodo bird. It’s all about maximizing what you’ve got and combining that with a little subtle manipulation of your company peers.
Do you have any tips for looking smarter than you actually are around the office? Leave your suggestion in the comments down below.