Wouldn't you like to be smarter? Even if you are already super-smart, you probably wouldn't mind goosing the old IQ a few points. Or at least making it look that way.

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Wouldn’t you like to be smarter? Even if you are already super-smart, you probably wouldn’t mind goosing the old IQ a few points. Or at least making it look that way.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you do anything ridiculous, like going out and buying a pair of nerdy eyeglasses. (Unless you really need eyeglasses.) And I’m not suggesting that you fake competence, or behave in any way that is sneaky or underhanded or dishonest.

The way to look smarter than you really are is not only simple, but straightforward.

Talk more.

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You may be just about ready to quote that old proverb: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”

But you know what? In the workplace, and that’s what we’re talking about here, people who speak up more often are viewed as more instrumental to the group’s overall success. That’s because talkative people are perceived as dominant people. What’s more, for better or for worse, dominant people are perceived as competent people.

In fact, it’s actually possible to be smart without appearing to be smart. Sad, isn’t it?

Once we accept that a certain amount of success is based more on style than on substance, we can start to make this little quirk work for us. Of course — and this should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway — the key is to talk in an intelligent manner. Offer useful feedback! Pose pertinent questions! Invite group dialogue!

Heck, you can even admit total ignorance if you clearly demonstrate that your objective is the success of your team and your organization. The simple act of contributing is what establishes you as a player.

The result is that your bosses will perceive you as a leader and your job will be more secure. Even naturally shy types (like me and, maybe, you) can see the advantage of that.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.