The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Too Smart For Your Own Good and the Job
There are times in your life where you find people saying to you, “You are too smart for your own damn good.” Other times, you are just too smart for a job, or at least, it appears that way. You may have too much experience or too much education and you find it hard to get hired by jobs you know you can easily do. Maybe you want a job with less responsibility or more responsibility, but every job offer that seems promising slips away as quickly as it presented itself.
On your resume, you may have had to remove a few jobs that make you appear less experienced, less well-rounded, and even less older than you actually are. During your interview process, you feel out the interviewer and already know that you cannot let them know you know more than they know you know.
Did I lose you there? You cannot let them know that you have more knowledge about the area they are hiring you for, because they may feel discontent in hiring you for a certain position, possibly even knowing they are severely underpaying you, or that you hold a lot more potential, and may change the face of the company, and some hiring managers, bosses, or co-workers could easily see you as a threat to the establishment.
There may also be times where you get the job and you have to actually have to dumb yourself down, acting somewhat a fool, because the company or management shuns ideas and creativity, preferring you to be like the rest of the sheep, following your orders, completing your tasks, and simply making the paycheck that barely gets you anywhere. There are even some corporate jobs that discourage creativity and ideas from their employees, preferring to keep the ideas coming from only a handful of people in upper management.
Among your co-workers, you may even have to appear somewhat idiotic and unintelligent because they seem to appear upset or disdained by your comments, so after learning what your co-workers accept in terms of conversation, which they hardly understand, but you do your best to not have any intelligent conversations with them in order to not offend anyone.
Dumbing down for a job is quite common amongst many employees in the workplace, from working with immature co-workers, to paranoid managers and bosses, to even sometimes corporate owners who have no idea where the direction of the company is going, and make it appear to be more successful than it actually is, when in reality, the company is on the verge of failing everyday.
Sometimes the job itself requires one to dumb down because it literally requires no thought processes at all, simply a rinse and repeat task, that could be done with eyes closed. Unfortunately, the position must be filled, and you needed the job, so you filled it.
I once had to act non-intelligent around a former boss, as he would always try to fight intelligence, always wanting the last word, and trying to outsmart whatever comments or remarks I made. This former boss had to be right and if he was not right, he would immediately change the subject to something he could be right about, but ultimately, his primary defense was the usage that he was the boss, and that he ran the company. He would always say, “I’m wrong, you’re right, you should be running the company, I have only been running this company for 20 years, but you know more than me.”
On the phone with his customers, he would rather have lost customers than to be proven wrong, and he did lose many. This boss remained unopened to new suggestions, ideas, and creativity. He refused all feedback and criticisms towards his management style. It was his way or the highway, and so, for the lousy paycheck, everyone just kept their mouths shut and the boss was always right. The only kudos I can give to him is that he is still in business, despite the IRS coming after him multiple times, his many sexual harassment lawsuits, and his many encounters with investigation services spending weeks at a time looking for malpractices in his business.
No matter your situation, the lesson to be learned is that you sometimes need to take a hit in order to get to a better place. Whether it is your co-workers, a manager, or boss, there are times where you need to appear dumb, without opinion, and lacking of knowledge, appearing to be relearning what you already know.
Like a game of Chess, eventually, though it may take you dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times. You do finally figure out that move that helps you get ahead, and ultimately, land a checkmate on the King. In other words, you might find another job, figure out how to go beyond the obstacles currently in your way and surpass them for a promotion or a raise. We are all faced with similar challenges in the workplace, but figuring out how the game works, and beating it is our ultimate success.