Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Smart Rating

So there you are, at a networking event or a business meeting, eying a couple across the room. He has a gym-perfect physique, a crisp designer suit, and carefully manicured hands. She has a few extra pounds, a button missing on her blouse, and a hairstyle that hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

Which of the two is smarter?

The bad news: We are judged by our appearance.
The good news: We are respected for our brains.

Looking smart feels great, is great—but being smart is the icing on the cake.

These five simple practices will boost your “smart” rating:

  1. Boost Your Vocabulary: Crack open that dusty dictionary or thesaurus. Commit to learning and using one new word each day. Bookmark in your browser. Learn correct pronunciations, spelling, and context.
  2. Ask Questions: Benjamin Franklin said, “Humility makes great men twice honorable.” Focusing the conversation on what the other person knows and asking respectful questions achieves two things: It gives you an opportunity to learn even when you think you already know it all, and it engages the other person in their favorite topic—themselves.
  3. Read Good Books: If time is an issue, carry a book or e-Reader with you—read a few paragraphs or pages while you’re in the waiting room. Commit to reading two or three pages each day, or listen to audio books. Buy magazines or subscribe to feeds on topics with which you are not familiar—it will help you broaden your knowledge.
  4. Speak Simply: Increasing your vocabulary amplifies your ability to communicate, but obscure words, jumbo words or industry lingo confuse the conversation. Sadly, most American adults read at an 8th grade level. Use simple, ordinary words, and gauge your word choices on the “pomposity factor.” Never use a three syllable word when a two syllable word will do, and never use a two syllable word when a single syllable word gets your point across.
  5. Listen More than you Speak: William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” No one likes a conversation hog, or to be upstaged. Practice your listening skills, speak simply and concisely, and understand your role in the theater of the moment.

Being smart is the icing on the cake!

Networking Shortage Predicted

Saturday morning, 6 a.m., I’m scanning news articles in my email box. The first headline to catch my attention reads:

Networking Skills Shortage To Continue Through 2014.

“Hhhmmm… that’s curious,” I thought. Networking training is everywhere, and most people I meet are at least reasonably good at expressing the essence of their business. So, how can a number cruncher predict the world would be “short” of networking skills for another three years?

I read the opening paragraph three times before I looked at the news digest banner, and realized the article was about computer networking – routers and switchers and those other mysterious things I simply don’t comprehend.

I admit I was sleepy, and still in my pajamas. Still, this laughable moment had a point.

The headline of the article was appropriate for the venue in which it was published and the article fully proved the author’s point. The disconnect was in my brain. I translated the headline and opening words relative to my own life and experience, and it was a totally silly misinterpretation.

The Moral of the Story?

Miscommunication happens even with what you might think are the most innocent words and phrases. As you write your next article, email, or letter, be mindful of the various ways in which even common words could be interpreted – or misinterpreted. Choose your words carefully, make clarity your primary focus, and take misinterpretation in stride.

And never read the news in your pajamas.