Boss Lady

9 tips to seem smarter at work


No one ever wants to feel dumb or stupid. You didn’t at school, you don’t at work and you probably don’t want to in the future. Especially not in front of others. And definitely not in the workplace.

Now, the bad news is that there’s no surefire way to prevent you from doing something dumb or stupid at work — or anywhere else. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to at least appear smarter at work. Even make others think that you are some kind of genius.

1. Be authoritative

Sounding powerful or authoritative, in this sense, means being in control of a situation and having a sense of command over those around you. But not in a domineering dictator kind of way – the kind of personwho has control issues, micromanages and hovers over people’s shoulders while they work.

To sound more powerful, you should be able to command people with carefully chosen words that have meaning behind them and inspire others to aim high and do the best work they can –, no matter what topic you’re talking about.

This can make you seem smarter at work because, by choosing your inspiring words carefully, they will think—perhaps correctly—that you have a wealth of wisdom and knowledge at your fingertips that is well beyond your years and you are happy to share with them.

2. Sound knowledgeable

We’re not trying to suggest you’re an idiot and you don’t know anything at all. But, sounding more knowledgeable than you really are can make you seem smarter at work because those around you will think you are an expert on a topic — even if you only researched what thermonuclear fusion is for a particular project five minutes ago and then immediately forgot what it was when the project finished.

Furthermore, sounding more knowledgeable can also make you seem smarter because, even if you have no interest in the topic you’re researching and doing a project on, it will suggest that you can take your job seriously, work hard, do some research and do your job well. This, when your co-workers notice, can also make them lift their game and do the same as you.

3. Don’t fall prey to BS

This one can be tricky because you don’t want to lack trust in the people you know or work with. The trick with this one is just to be a bit more discerning about the things people tell you, e.g. why they need to leave work early, not come in at all or even about why they are submitting work late.

This way, being a bit more discerning about what people tell you and when you say no to things, doesn’t make you come across as mean or like a dictator. It just means that people will get the message about their timing and reasoning for needing to leave work, arriving late or submitting work late.

And sure, they may come up with a lie soooo good that you fall for it from time to time, but being a bit more discerning can make you seem smarter at work because the people around will also start getting the message that you don’t take BS from anyone — and aren’t as gullible as they think you are or maybe once were.

4. Get some exercise

Now, you might be wondering “what does getting exercise have to do with appearing smarter at work?” Well, I’ll tell you. Taking time out of your day (and work) to get some exercise, like a run or vigorous walk, can be beneficial to your work and productivity because it can help you clear your brain from any stress or pressure you might be feeling at work and how much you have to do.

Also, getting some exercise will also help you appear smarter because if, for example, you go for a run in the middle of the day — no matter how much work you have to do — those around you will think that you are so on top of things that leaving for an hour or so is no big deal to you. So just like Forrest… run.

5. Talk to yourself

If you talk yourself, and nobody knows this is a habit of yours to work through ideas and generally help your thought process, they might start talking too, but about whether or not you are mentally stable.

But if people are aware you are working through a complexity, talking to yourself can make you seem smarter to those around you because it can be seen as part of your process to get through your work and make it as brilliant as possible (not that it wouldn’t be brilliant anyway). Just make sure it doesn’t happen too loudly, or so often that it disturbs people.

6. Draw a venn diagram

Everyone knows what a Venn diagram is and looks like. Two big circles the represent separate things overlapping with the small middle area being the common link. Now, if you’re wondering how this can help you with yours and your teams’ work—here’s how.

Venn diagrams can be a handy way of starting work on a project and furthering its progression because it can help you and your team figure out a way, for example, of combining a client or idea with the message they want to get out and going from there. Plus, even if you use this tip on your own project , those around you will think you’re a genius for figuring out a way to solve whatever problems you face and may even start using it themselves.

7. Translate percentage metrics into fractions

[tweet_quote hashtags=”#careertip” ]Translating percentages into fractions can make you seem smarter[/tweet_quote] because you will be playing around with your words. This can be very helpful to you in the workplace, especially if you’re job involves communicating with others— marketing and advertising particularly.

So, for example, instead of saying “25% of people…” say “1 in 4 people…”. This way it seems like there more people who do, say or like something and will also make you seem smarter to those around you because they may think you’ve done more research than you really have.

And apparently there has been a correlation between a person’s intelligence and their use of wordplay. Just saying…

8. Pace around the room

Pacing around the room can make it seem like you’re thinking harder about what to do about something, whereas sitting at your desk, rubbing your temples can make you seem more stressed, unable to deal with things and cope with them.

Now, pacing around can be a bit more difficult if you work in a cubicle or some other kind of open spaced work area where you don’t have your own office. But, you may be able to do this in a subtle way that doesn’t disturb your colleagues or make your boss think you’re not working.

To do this, you could consume lots of liquids—water, coffee, tea. You know, the usual— which would also allow you frequent use of the bathroom. You could also make good use of the printer/photocopier, which may be more difficult depending on your actual printing/photocopying needs (and, of course, don’t forget your finances).

9. Make fun of yourself

[tweet_quote hashtags=”#careertip” ]You don’t want to behave like the dumb office clown.[/tweet_quote] But gentle deprecating self-humor will make the people around you realize that you know you have flaws, you’re okay with it and you have a comical way of expressing it. It is also a great way to let people think you’re ‘in on the joke’, even if they aren’t making jokes at your expense.

This will also make you seem smarter at work because, through the self-deprecating, ‘in on the joke’ sense of humor you have about yourself, others will realize how self-aware and self-reflective you are.

It may also help, though, if you find a good balance between having your good sense of humor about yourself and doing your work brilliantly. This can also make you seem smarter because your colleagues will see that you know when the appropriate times to have fun and get on with your work are — and follow your example.

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.

Recommended for you