•Most serious conversations are peppered with opinions, ideas and general thoughts, but rarely with verbal footnotes.
•Most casual conversations are about interests and activities but rarely include even a hint about how the participants learn anything new–if they do.
•At work, we are often quick to say how things should be done or done differently, but we don’t cite anything to support our suggestions.
•We start on a new project or are given a new assignment and anyone hearing us talk about it would assume we are learning by doing, not by studying or researching.
•We’re interviewed for a job, promotion or in-house assignment change and we answer questions without referring to the training, reading, researching or self-initiated experience we used as a basis for our responses. So, for all the interviewers know, we just pulled the answers out of our hats–or elsewhere.
Let Others Know How You Know What You Know
All of those situations are reasons why we should keep ourselves informed, aware and knowledgeable–and let others know about our efforts when it’s appropriate to do so. You don’t have to drop book titles and college classes in every conversation, but you certainly can let people know, now and then, that you keep yourself informed. Let them know you are continually expanding your perspectives. At the very least, introduce some new topics into your conversations.
“I just started (or finished or are reading) a really interesting book about ____ .”
“I’ve talked to four or five other supervisors to help me figure out the best way to deal with this.”
“I wanted to refresh my thinking on this subject and I saw they were going to do a show about it on TV, so I watched it.”
“I had been hearing about _______and I did some Internet research on it. It was a lot of new information for me.”
“We were taught that technique in training a few months ago so I tried it and it worked!”
“I know that ________suggests handling this in a different way, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and read as much as I could on it, and I think we should ____.”
“Over the years I’ve watched how supervisors like ___, ____ and____ have handled conflicts. I’ve developed responses that I think combines the best of all them.”
Those kind of attributions and acknowledgements may not present you as the genius who thought of everything yourself, but they let people know you are aware of the need to keep learning and to apply what you’ve learned. That’s even better!