The Art of Not Always Being the Smartest Person in the Room

I’ve got a confession to make: I often find myself wanting to be the most knowledgeable person in the room. Not out of arrogance or a desire to show off, but because I genuinely enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. 

You see, I’ve always been surrounded by a mix of smart and insightful folks. While I love stimulating conversations, I’ve also noticed that I sometimes fall into the trap of wanting to prove myself. It’s as if there’s an imaginary hand that’s perpetually raised inside me, shouting, “Pick me! I’ve got the answer!”

Lately, I’ve been making a conscious effort to tone it down a notch. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lost my passion for learning or started avoiding the company I keep. Rather, I’m beginning to understand that being fixated on always playing the “expert” role may not be the most beneficial approach for the situation, others involved, or even myself.

Have you ever wondered what you might be missing out on when you’re always eager to contribute your ideas or opinions? 

When we focus on proving our expertise, we might inadvertently overlook other valuable cues.

Noticing the nuances

When you’re focused on your contribution, you might miss the subtleties in the conversation – those non-verbal cues like facial expressions, body language, and emotional tone that can reveal so much. What if, instead, you took a moment to observe these nuances? What new insights might they bring?

Being open to new ideas

When you’re quick to share your thoughts, it’s easy to overlook other perspectives that might be equally, if not more, intriguing. What if you allowed yourself to listen more and truly considered others’ ideas? You might discover concepts that you hadn’t even considered.

Creating space for others to think

By immediately offering your solutions, you might unintentionally reduce the opportunity for others to explore and find their own answers. What if you held back a little and allowed others to think through their responses? By doing so, you might be fostering a space where critical thinking can flourish.

So, what can we do when the urge to be the expert arises?

Take a breath and notice

Before jumping into the conversation, pause and notice the environment, the people, and the dynamics at play. Pay attention to non-verbal cues that might provide insights beyond the spoken words.

Hold off a bit

It’s okay to wait before sharing your thoughts. Let the conversation flow, and if your insights are still relevant later, share them then. Sometimes, allowing ideas to evolve over time can bring valuable new perspectives.

Embrace the urge with awareness and compassion

It’s natural to want to share your knowledge and insights – that’s how we connect and learn from one another. Acknowledge the urge to contribute and make a conscious decision about when and how to share your thoughts.

Here’s a challenge: the next time you’re in a conversation, observe the rhythm, the emotions, and the underlying meaning behind what others are saying. If you’re someone who tends to take the lead, try holding back just once. What space might that create for others? What new insights could emerge?

Being knowledgeable and willing to share your expertise is a gift. But sometimes, it’s worth asking: do we always have to be the ones offering the answers? Perhaps by stepping back, we can discover new perspectives, create space for others to shine, and learn even more in the process.

Photo by Collab Media on Unsplash

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