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Stop being the smartest person in the room

I came across this blog entry by Peter Shankman ( Shankman founded Help A Reporter Out, (HARO) and from what I read a much sought after speaker. But lets get back to his main thesis. Should you always be the smartest person in the room or should you find ways to be the average person? Now having answered that question (either in writing or in your though processes) how can you apply that to your business and improving the business? Obviously if you're reading Proformative, you are finding value here (otherwise why are you spending time; unless you think everything I write is witty and Pulitzer material (it is, but I have definitely digressed)). But how do you obtain that alternative "smarter" point of view to enhance your business? And how do you handle the boss who thinks they are smarter than everyone?


John Argo
Title: Consultant
Company: Independent Advisory Services
(Consultant, Independent Advisory Services) |

Endeavor to surround yourself with the smartest, most talented people you can. Perhaps this may be a more constructive way of putting it.

Karl Nicholls
Title: Principal
Company: BTN LLC
(Principal, BTN LLC) |

There are two main points that I took away from the article.
1. Seek out people who are smarter than you to surround yourself with. Seek to learn and not to "teach". Challenge yourself to not be the "smartest" person in the room, its good to have humility.
2. Don't be the person that speaks just to hear their own voice. Don't feel like you should have to have something to say if you don't. It's good to listen to others, to get other inputs. Diverse ideas will contribute to business success; not ego and ethnocentric thinking.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |


Your comments are really smart. Many people fall into thinking their boss is by definition always the smartest person around , and even if they're not, they have to behave as if the boss is :).

So, if you are a boss, find time to ask your direct reports what they would do in your shoes if a situation arose. Ask, listen to them and decline to answer your own question. You have to create a trusting environment first though, so if you are the micro manager, the command-and-control freak, you'll likely need to realize that and first introduce the "new you" to your team before you try this exercise.

If you're networking or consulting, listen with both ears open and mouth closed, and maybe wait until others ask questions/make comments. You may be surprised/educated by the divergence of views:). Then, consider if anything you want to say is worth saying and whether it should be a question or a statement/ opinion. Or it may best be a compliment that you pay to the others because you learned from them.

Soft skills are hard to learn and keep refined:)

David Rau
Title: CFO
Company: Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW
(CFO, Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW) |

There is an old saying and it goes something like this, "If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room."

michael hofmann
Title: consultant
Company: connor group
(consultant, connor group) |

Or as Mark Twain said “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

I have worked in environments where the CFO is always right and only he or she can make the decision. It's not a good environment. If you think you are the only one with the right answer, you have most likely stopped learning.

Jack Judd
Title: Retired
Company: Retired
(Retired, Retired) |

I want to be in the same room with all of the above commenters. It will remove all doubt that I am not the smartest person in the room.

This is repetitive, but seek to have the right level of smartness for the situation.

I also view smart (combination of emotional and intellectual) being different than intelligent (raw IQ).


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