Work and adulthood is about pretending you know things you know nothing about as well as the continual fear that one day your boss, subordinates, peers will find out that you are not as smart as you think you are.
The good thing is they already know, read this great exploration of Asymmetric Insight from Your not so smart; People know you better than you think and they are also better judges of your ability than you are. We are really bad a judging ourselves and really good at judging others.
The challenge is to understand that not everyone knows or cares about the same things you do. I remember being in my early 20’s working for Bic, I was the Shipping Dock Director. The executive team called in some big name auditing company to audit our inventory counts and to consult with us about doing things better. In a meeting with the Operations Director she mentioned the companies name (which I cannot recall) and when I said “What do they do?” She gave me a look that I interpreted as DUMB ASS! and said “Michael they are only the largest auditing firm in the South East, you don’t know that?”. I had not idea because that means nothing to me.
Sometimes when leading groups I find myself doing the same thing with terms and processes, “You don’t know Kouzes & Posner 5 Practices for Exemplary Leadership? You have never read a Peter Drucker Book? Surly you must know about Jaques formula to determine Current Applied Capacity.”
No people do not know and many do not care, that is alright-they are not stupid they just don’t know what I or you do.
Now the inquiry-I’m not stupid I just don’t know?
- When you share a concept or idea with someone how can you ensure they know what you are talking about?
- If you hear something you know nothing about, do you ask questions about it?
- Share in example of when you were in a conversation and you had not idea what the other person was talking about?
- What could you have done to improve your competence in knowing what they were talking about?
- Do you ask people questions?
- How do you react when people ask you questions?
- In what way can you ensure that people who do not know the subject or content matter as well as you, feel comfortable asking questions?
- Who are you trying to impress?