The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

March 28, 2014

Watercooler: A know-it-all who knows how he sounds

Q: I'm in the fortunate position of being able to attempt to fix a problem. Some background: I am more intelligent than average (150+ IQ) and have lived the cliche of someone who gets bored easily and doesn't apply himself. This, plus the necessity of putting my wife through college after I dropped out, means I have been chronically underemployed.

A few years ago, I lucked into a complete change of scene, finished my degree with straight 4.0s and got a job with a real career track. A few people in upper management see my potential and want to help me get promoted, but I've got a few rough edges to smooth out. The largest is my delivery: matter-of-fact to the point of abruptness. I've had it all my life, and it's given me a reputation as a know-it-all.

I've done a lot of soul-searching and have polled my friends and family, who agree I can be condescending. Their advice boils down to "act dumber."

Now I've been given an opportunity to help train new employees, and management will be watching to see if I can do so without acting like a "glass bowl." I'm terrified that every time I have to correct someone, I'll cement my reputation and squander this opportunity. Any advice?

A: A glass bowl, maybe, but a reflective glass bowl. There's hope.

Know-it-alls know all the answers, but not when and how to share them. The smartest people I know let others be smart, too — not by "acting dumber" but by being strategically generous.

They ask questions instead of spitting out answers: What do you think? Does anyone have a different idea? What if we tried this instead?

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