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I have ended up in a position that perfectly matches my experience and education, and as a result have been doing well. I have been able to accomplish some tasks that my seniors were not able to, and have made my success quite public within the company by showing the results to those who benefit from them. In addition, I have realized that I'm spending a lot of time correcting other people by sharing what is considered common knowledge in my field, which seems to disagree with and refine a lot of what they presently believe. This is all possible because my area of domain knowledge, although very useful to the business, is not shared by anyone else.

If you think this is all a good thing, you have not had much professional experience. ;)

Before I make too many enemies, I need to figure out how to graciously share my knowledge. Regardless of whether or not there's a real reason for them to be defensive, it is against everybody's interests for me to do my job in a way that arouses opposition. How can I continue to share my domain expertise (which makes up most of my value) without threatening, belittling or one-upping anyone?

marked as duplicate by gnat, Rory Alsop, IDrinkandIKnowThings, gazzz0x2z, jimm101 Oct 17 '18 at 11:14

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    Then you have no problem, you're the subject expert as part of your role, no one has a reason to be upset. – Kilisi Oct 14 '18 at 2:41
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    Interpersonal relationships don't always follow the rules of business interests. No matter how well-justified my words are from a "rules based" standpoint, the way I deliver them can still cause trouble. Imagine if your boss or an external consultant wanted to inform you of a new method to do your job - there are a lot of different ways they could approach it, some which you would vastly prefer over others. – anon Oct 14 '18 at 2:48
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    Ok, I hired a welder last year, I've been welding for years, he tells me I'm doing it wrong, rearranged my little assembly line and shows me why, I'm a professional I don't cry about it or get angry with him. It's what I hired him for, he has the authority to enforce changes in his area of expertise if he wants, I'll back him. Are you working with kids? Or are you being arrogant about how you give the solutions? If you give professional solutions in a professional manner there shouldn't be an issue. It's not a beauty pageant you don't have to be popular, just respected for your expertise. – Kilisi Oct 14 '18 at 2:58
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    Professionally and thoroughly, explain whenever asked and take feedback seriously and without any arrogance. Do it as if you have the perfect right to, which you do and mildly surprised that anyone would have an issue. – Kilisi Oct 14 '18 at 3:44
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    The other question I would have is, is this really an XY problem. Suppose you get hired as a software developer, and you are working on medical devices. Now, surprise, in a previous life you studied Medicine, and you can challenge / correct the requirements you are given, unlike your seniors. But the problem here would not be with the seniors, who are doing their job effectively, but with the project management overall, as there are insufficient people with the relevant knowledge. – Joe Stevens Oct 14 '18 at 10:45
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If you are a domain expert in a particular area, then you have a right (and a professional obligation) to use/share your expertise for the benefit of the company you are working for. This is especially true if that is specifically what they hired you to do.

If you know you are right, or something someone else is doing is wrong, because of your training or prior experience, then it it important to communicate it clearly, confidently and concisely. Use a fairly dead-pan/neutral tone of voice - state what you know as a matter of fact and try to avoid sounding 'cocky' or haughty.

It is important to be firm, because if you try to be too 'diplomatic' or somehow downplay your knowledge by being 'gracious', then there is a risk you will come across as uncertain or unconfident, which may be doing a disservice to your expertise and may undermine your position as a subject-matter expert.

It is important to be factual and to try not to state professional opinion as fact. Be clear about what is scientific fact and what is based on your personal former experiences. Also, be prepared to back up your input with references or examples, e.g. "No, that's not how 1D adiabatic flow theory works - I can point you to a good reference text book that explains that" or "No, I don't think that's going to work, because I did a series of lab tests in this previous job that were very similar".

In terms of being 'diplomatic' if you need to correct someone, it might be helpful to have a conversation with them in private, rather than showing them up or embarrassing them in front of a large group. Although, sometimes correcting someone in a large meeting is necessary, if there is a serious conceptual error that is underpinning the whole thing.

Also, be open-minded and listen to other people too. Don't just assume that because you have more prior experience in this area, that you will always be right. No-one ever knows everything about anything. It is quite possible that someone else may come up with some cool new idea or a new way of doing something, that you may not have considered or come across before. It is by sharing your knowledge, but also being willing to take on board other people's suggestions and ideas that you will build a level of respect within your organization.

So, be firm and confident when you know (100%) you are right, but also be honest and open-minded in areas you are less sure about.

You say in your question that many of your coworkers are more senior than you and may have more experience in the company. In that case, the approach I would take is to present your input as a recommendation, clearly and confidently: "Based on my past experience and training, my recommendation is X". It can also be good to put this in writing (perhaps in an e-mail). Then, let them choose what to do with it. If they ignore your advice (and you were right), chances are they will make some mistake, which will become apparent later on, and you will be vindicated. In this way, you can gradually build your reputation in the company and your coworkers should come to appreciate your expertise in that area.

However, if your coworkers are being downright unprofessional, to the point where they are being rude; not letting you speak; or even bullying you, then I would probably discuss that with your Manager.

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A common pitfal in teaching would be to assume that because you hold knowledge, you should hold a position of power, for example, telling people they are doing wrong.

In addition, I have realized that I'm spending a lot of time correcting other people

This is a typical example of thing I consider quite disgracious, for that :

  1. You consider what you hold as truth when it's only best known so far in your domain field.
  2. It really empathises how much you think they need you, when they may not.
  3. It's disregarding that people have their own expertise domain and you are trying to make them acquire a new one they didn't ask for i.e. they can resist change, for good or bad reasons.

You are here, as you said, to deliver knowledge and not make things right. A general advice is to avoid formulations like "The right way to do x" and trade it for a more acceptable "Based on fact y, x is more efficient", backing up your claims and avoiding the use of moral and authority markers (good bad best worst should must etc.)

It is expected that in this situation, you will spend more time explaining simple things and addressing complaints, than you will to deliver the most technical content, but having a little impact on the organisation is better than being resisted and having no impact at all.

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Only ever discuss facts with people if you are correcting them. i.e. because of x study or y example we know b which doesn't match the current concept/practice c. Or instead of just stating they are wrong propose a small business experiment that would prove you right, if the situation allows.

A professional will be able to deal with being wrong when proven they're wrong. But people tend to have problems when a newcomer just tells them "you're wrong, because everyone knows you need to do it like so".

Also, I would recommend picking your battles. If you correct everything everyone else says, no matter how well you do it, people will grow tired of you knowing everything. Pick the most important misconceptions to correct and either leave the others or only suggest the "correct" alternative, presented as an option rather than a necessity. Remember that people can often rationally pick "sub-optimal" options because they are considering a different set of variables to weigh their decision than you are considering.

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Prepare a series of informal mini-lectures teaching the things you’re always correcting people about, and with your boss’s help, organize a lecture series in which to present them. One great way to do this is to do it as a lunchtime activity and supply free food (again, get boss’s buy-in and you may be able to get the business to supply the food) or just ask people to brown-bag it and you supply dessert.

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    Good idea - 'lunch and learn'. Would be a good opportunity to introduce yourself and explain your background too. – Time4Tea Oct 14 '18 at 19:59