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Are your coworkers jealous or are you obnoxious?

(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have a question about jealous co-workers. I got trained for a new assignment by this guy in another department. Everyone has been saying how good I am with programming and other things. Basically, when I was training I gave it my all. The guy who was training me is newer, and I feel that my experience kind of intimidated him.

He would always talk about it and almost even complain about how much experience I have. So because of this he trained me really poorly. He didn't care. I basically got no training from him, and he didn't help with anything. On top of that he was rude.

I have another person who I am going to train with for another assignment. Do you think it's wise to dumb it down to get people to not be intimidated or jealous. My girlfriend says the same thing happens to her sometimes. To me it sounds more like a girl thing, but evidently not. She says to not let on how much you know. I can see her point. Do you agree?

Knowledge is not the problem here. Lack of knowledge is, because despite your brilliance you still don't know how to do whatever it is this guy was supposed to train you for.

I'm guessing that what you saw as your brilliant programming skills he saw as an obnoxious know-it-all who when it came down to it, didn't know what the goal was. Now, for all I know, your trainer was a lazy, awful, terrible person who was intimidated by your brilliance and should be fired. But if he wasn't, you'll have the same problem again.

I spent a couple years as a technical trainer. The people who showed up for training often loudly proclaimed that they didn't need to be there, said they already knew so many other systems that this one should be easy, complained they had better things to do and groused they were only here because their boss made them. Typically, they were also the worst performers, most clueless and most in need of remedial help. ("How do I double click?") So, even if you don't fall into that category, your trainer has undoubtedly encountered people who acted very much like you did and did fall into this category.

When you go for training next time, don't try to hide your intelligence, but don't make that your focus. Instead, focus on what you need to do. Introduce yourself. "Hi! I'm John Doe. I'm so excited about learning how to do this program. I've heard a lot of good things about it."

When he asks your background, give him an honest assessment: "I've had three years doing X and two years doing Y. Last year I was trained on Z, but I'm not super-confident in it." Trust me when I say that you don't need to tell someone you're really good at something to have them figure it out.

You may get frustrated when the trainer says, "Double click on this icon. It's the thing on your screen that looks like an eagle," because, well, duh, that's what you need to do. Understand that it's the trainer's job to make sure you understand how to do everything and that if he skips something because you assure him you don't need to know that, chances are you need to know that.

It is true that some people are intimidated by intelligent people. Some managers only hire people who they are smarter than in order to boost their self-esteem. But the vast majority of people want to do their jobs successfully. Give your trainer the opportunity to be successful.

And, it's possible that if it's one-on-one training, the trainer will rapidly pick up that you know what you're doing and jump ahead. If it's a classroom setting, you'll likely have to suffer through some of the basics. But don't try to push the issue by constantly saying, "Oh, I know how to do that," or "Well, in Program X we do ABC. Why aren't we doing that here?" Make sure you understand what your trainer is saying before you question why he's saying it.

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