Boss Lady

10 times playing dumb is smart


You’re an intelligent, savvy career woman. But are you smart enough to know when to play dumb? And by that, we don’t mean being stupid. There are times when not showing off everything you know can lead to you knowing more… times when playing dumb is smart.

By playing dumb from time to time in order to gather information, you give yourself the opportunity to learn more. And it also gives you the chance to become known as a very trustworthy person by getting people to confide their deepest secrets, or at least the office gossip, in you — and, therefore, know what is happening around the office and in your co-workers lives at any given point in time.

1. If you’re trying to avoid office politics

Playing dumb and ignoring the fighting and bad blood between co-workers can help you avoid any office politics. And your perception of particular co-workers won’t be spoiled by the perceptions of them held by other co-workers.

Additionally, avoiding office politics also helps you ignore and stay out of everyone else’s drama. It also displays a set of qualities to your boss and co-workers that you are above politics – that participating in idle gossip and petty feuds is not the way you conduct yourself or the way you want your career to go.

2. You get more insider info

Acting dumb, staying neutral and generally staying out of your co-workers’ drama, gives you the advantage of being the one in the know. This is great because, by being the neutral one in the office, you become the one everyone trusts because you will have an objective point of view about certain situations that others may not. Regardless of what or how much you already know.

Additionally, by pretending you have no idea what’s happening around the office in terms of gossip and animosity between co-workers, you are also able to establish a certain degree of separation between being on someone’s ‘side’ if there are co-workers fighting — and be known for being a professional who can rise above personality conflicts.

Doing this can also work to your advantage because you will probably be trusted more and be able to move forward in your career and at the company.

4. Smart detectives play dumb

You might not be Columbo, Miss Marple, or Sherlock Holmes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great detective or know how to gather intel.

By playing dumb while also playing detective, you will be able to gather information on everything that’s happening around the office, who’s doing what and even which co-workers don’t get along with each other. Yes, while you don’t want to get involved in personality conflicts, it’s useful to know which teams are battling with them.

Additionally, when it comes to the goings on of the office, playing dumb while also playing detective can be a great way to find out if there is an opportunity for a pay rise or a promotion.

By finding out that kind of information, you can use this to your advantage to subtly show your boss your good work and put yourself in the running for the pay rise or promotion. But without bringing harm to others, costing a co-worker their job or damaging their reputation of course!

5. How to play dumb the smart way

To successfully play dumb and make sure you’re convincing at it, you need to pick the right moments to act dumb. By picking the right moments, you increase your chances of a) getting information and b) getting useful information.

Additionally, playing dumb the smart way can also help you ask people straightforward questions without appearing aggressive or disrespectful. In doing this, you will come across as unassuming and as someone who genuinely wants to always learn more.

6. Playing dumb helps you get smart

While you would never tune out during a meeting out of boredom, at least not intentionally, it can also play well into your hand to ask a co-worker what was said during the meeting.

In doing this, not only are you able to clarify what was said during the meeting, you can also gain insight into your co-worker’s thoughts on what is happening.

Additionally, while the good, ethical side of you won’t claim a co-workers ideas and hard work as your own, knowing what they are thinking and doing can only help develop and strengthen your own work to, for example, take the lead on the next big group-project.

7. Playing dumb makes for an excellent poker face

Playing dumb is like playing poker. In order to do it well, you need a good poker face. Developing a good poker face can give you the upper hand when in a meeting or talking to a co-worker about something you either don’t support or don’t understand.

That poker face is an excellent tool for filtering or shielding any negative responses you might feel, and with that filter in place, you can strengthen your reputation as somebody who is never fazed or upset, even in a crisis.

8. You can boost your coworkers’ egos

Playing dumb can also serve those around you well. This is mainly because, while you may know what is happening at work or how something works, letting your colleagues ‘fill you in’ when they feel the need will give them an ego boost they probably need and deserve.

Playing dumb to help boost an ego will also help you because eventually people will often then come to you first with news without being prompted.

9. Don’t overplay your hand

Overplaying your hand by playing dumber than someone might normally be at any given time can give away your plan and make it quite obvious that your dumb act is an act.

In order for you to use the ‘dumb’ tool properly, you will need to keep your cards close to your chest and never reveal you are using it.  Ever.

10. Don’t play dumb too often

Playing dumb too often will give away the fact that you are playing dumb. By picking and choosing your moments of stupidity, not only do you keep the upper hand in what you know, you also keep the upper hand in how you find it out.

By choosing the right moments and situations, you can also gain a person’s trust by listening to them and making them feel smart for knowing something you don’t and by listening at the right moment.

Additionally, even if you’re not in the mood to listen, doing so anyway can still come in handy because you will still be gathering information and making others feel smart. And rightly so.

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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