Do all your coworkers seem like geniuses? Do you feel like you can’t keep up?
In a recent Quora thread, “How did you adjust to working with smarter people?,” users shared their best advice on how to deal with working with wildly intelligent people.
We pulled out some of the best answers and highlighted them below:
Have confidence. “If you got hired with all these brainiacs, there was something about you that said more than your academic credentials.” Don’t compare pedigrees, because they are more a reflection of luck and hard work than intelligence. If your coworkers are all highly accomplished, take it as a compliment: Your company saw something in you that was just as impressive. — Doug Edwards
Don’t try to play other people’s games. Know what your strengths are, and then double down on them. Companies need role players, so “find a role you can crush and crush it.” Think of it in terms of football. If a punter or field goal kicker tried to outperform the wide receivers and running backs, they would fail miserably. Instead, they focus on being the best they can in their tightly defined roles, and contribute in a way that best utilizes their skills. — Andy Johns
Learn from everyone around you. “Most smart people happen to be very generous.” People who like learning also enjoy sharing their knowledge. Strike up conversations as much as possible. When you find a few of those generous people who you feel comfortable with, spend more time with them and pick their brain. After a while, you’ll be able to contribute as much as those around you. Every conversation you have with a new coworker will bring you closer to their level. — B. Nguyen
Never hold back questions. Remember the common mantra: The only stupid phrase is the one not asked. “It’s much better to appear uninformed than to give the impression you know something you don’t, which can come back to haunt you.” — Doug Edwards
Understand that your coworkers are human, too. Don’t let your insecurities influence your interactions with people. Most of your coworkers are probably extremely nice and humble. It is likely that the more impressive they are, the less arrogant they are, because they have probably all met people smarter than they were. — Jay Wacker
Challenge yourself. When you set the bar as high as possible, you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish. Use your environment and your peers to inspire you. — Saraswati Chandra
Work harder. It’s difficult to get smarter, but you can always work harder than someone else. Determination and drive can carry you much further than natural intelligence. — Farhan Thawar
Put in the extra time to catch up. Outside of work, read as much as you can about your industry. Your goal should be to absorb all the information you can from the outside, so you can contribute interesting perspectives without sounding stupid. — Doug Edwards
Be patient. Understand that a lot of your coworkers’ smarts probably comes from years of experience. Give yourself some time, and you’ll eventually gain an edge. — Morgan Missen
Don’t worry about being noticed at first. It’s ok to not contribute every single opinion during meetings and projects. You should try to master the existing conversation before trying to make it your own. If you try to draw too much attention to yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll quickly lose respect. — Andrew Anderson
Take advantage of the opportunity. Realise that the alternative to working with smarter people is working with people who are less intelligent or experienced as you, which would probably be less educational and challenging. “Working with great peers will help you up your game.” — Leo Polovets
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