How to Make Your Co-Workers Smarter

Last Updated May 11, 2011 4:04 AM EDT

Recently my BNET colleague Suzanne Lucas suggested that if you have recurring issues with work, maybe it's time to stop pointing the finger at everyone else and admit that the problem might just be you. Lucas makes a great point, but what if the issue is that your co-workers seem like a bunch of dolts. Surely, if they're just a bit dim, you couldn't be at all to blame, could you?

If you think you have no responsibility for your co-workers' apparent shortage of brains, business relationship expert Keith Ferrazzi has a post for you. In it the author of bestseller Never Eat Alone argues that intelligence isn't just a fixed quantity that can be steadily measured by an IQ test, but is often dependent on context. By doing a few simple things you can up your colleagues' cleverness quotient and make your team as a whole smarter. Ferrazzi offers six tips from a new book entitled Brilliance by Design by Vicki Halsey -- all worth checking out. Here are a few of the best:

  • Learn about people's passions. You can't connect with others if you don't know anything about them. So, who are they? Ask lots of questions. What inspires or drives them? What are their goals? What have they learned recently?
  • Get over yourself. Flip your focus from yourself to the other person. When you say to yourself, "He hates me" or "She thinks I'm stupid," you are making someone else's behavior about you. Change your perspective. For instance, if you are thinking, "I want her to think I'm smart" flip your focus to "I want her to be smart."
  • Make connections. When interacting with small groups, be a "connector" by calling out each person's unique talents or strengths. Help people connect the dots and see that two or more heads really are better than one.
Besides being kind and humane, the advice quoted by Ferrazzi also has the advantage of being practical. While complaining about dim-witted colleagues might be necessary occasionally to blow off steam, it's unlikely to improve your work life and increase your happiness. This advice actually might make your life and the lives of your colleagues better.

Have you had experience working with less than intellectually impressive co-workers? How did you handle the situation?

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(Image courtesy of Flickr user psd, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.