Sometimes, it doesn’t matter that you’re college educated. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that you are knowledgeable in your field. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have honest-to-goodness, tried-and-true experience you can bring to the table: you’re in your 20s and you don’t know what you’re doing or what you’re talking about.
This is not a complaint session. This is not a time to rise up and say, “LISTEN TO ME!” Nobody will listen if you whine about it. This is me saying, stick to your guns but learn from others, too. Don’t be afraid of someone because they’re older or bigger or have more money or hold more weight in a given situation. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, but know when and how to move forward in your personal and professional relationships.
I know this sounds corny, but hear me out. This is the guidance counselor in me speaking.
1. Watch and learn. Watch how others who are actually older and wiser interact, how they make their decisions, how they treat others. Watch how they trust each other. Glean as much as you can, then speak when you’re ready and you have something of value to add to the conversation. This will help others trust you and your words, making for increasingly rich interactions.
2. Put some feelers out there, and then pay attention to how they’re received. We play up/showcase different pieces of our personality puzzle depending on our circumstance. Pay attention to the mood of a room and find your niche within in. If you’re paying attention, it won’t take long.
3. Set the tone if necessary. Sometimes, you are the one called to set the tone for the room. Sometimes you’re going to be the one who says what everyone is thinking but is afraid to voice it out loud. Sometimes they need you to inspire something. Don’t be afraid to do it.
I realize I’m not the best to give advice on this. I’m fairly quiet off this blog and have a big, loud (wonderful) family, and so to be heard I wrote an entire novel. [insert smile] But I am learning, and the three things on this list are my biggest lessons thus far.
You tell me:
What have you learned from people who are older and wiser?
When have you been able to set the tone, the one to guide others through a conversation or situation?