It bothers me when I run across people who talk down to me or give me advice on something before they know anything about me. This is usually people who are at least 20 years older than me. They think they are handing over their gifts of wisdom when usually I just feel insulted. They assume because I’m young I don’t know how to navigate my way in the career world or I don’t know some hidden truths to a happy marriage. Maybe I’m an old soul or wise for my age. But, I wouldn’t give out advice on anything after first meeting someone. If someone asked me for advice I would give it, but only advice that would effectively answer their question. I don’t give out any advice on anything, unless I know the person is either seeking advice or I’m sure my advice will help them and they will appreciate it. Just because your older than someone doesn’t mean you’re wiser or smarter. You may be wiser about some aspects of life, but no matter what your age is you can learn something from anyone. Advice shouldn’t be given out so freely. You should only give advice to those who seek it. Otherwise, you should know when it’s appreciated and when it’s not, because you risk insulting someone or making them feel inferior.
While in search of a new job I attended a networking group and I was the youngest member. I was targeted on more than one occasion due to stereotypes about the millennial generation. After I had been attending the group for several months there was a speaker who targeted me in the middle of her presentation. She was mentioning how everyone should be on LinkedIn and then specifically asked me if I was and after I replied “yes,” she said “good, because a lot of young people are not.” I was insulted. Not only did she stereotype me before knowing anything about me, she also failed to listen to my introduction about myself. While introducing myself earlier I mentioned I had experience with social media. Lastly, her stereotype was far from accurate because I know many young people who created LinkedIn profiles before a lot of the older generation. But, I was somehow lumped into the category of “most.” Nonetheless, most of the people in the group respected me and treated me as a peer.
I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for more than 7 years and after being unemployed and learning more about LinkedIn, it’s been continuously updated. In case you were wondering I didn’t ignore her comment. Instead, I chose to handle it in a mature way. I added her to my LinkedIn and in my message I thanked her for the presentation and told her that she shouldn’t be so quick to stereotype, because you can learn something from anyone. I think I also mentioned that I did a presentation on social media. It was a nice, professional message. She actually accepted my invite and later asked if she could help with my job search. I didn’t get an apology, but I didn’t need one. I just hope she learned that her comment was out of line and she shouldn’t stereotype people. She is a teacher of sorts so she needs to be skilled in the art of communication.
We can assume all sorts of things in our head about different groups of people, it’s sometimes hard not to. However, once we target a person and voice our thoughts out loud we have made an unfair assumption. If you know what they say about assuming: “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” Stereotypes don’t make you sound smarter. In this scenario, it made it seem like she had an ego, as if she was trying to say her generation is better, smarter or knows more. When voicing a stereotype whether it’s accurate to the person or not it’s insulting. In life and in the world of networking were usually hoping to learn or gain something from the people we meet. If you’re just looking to spread your own knowledge, you might miss the opportunity to learn something valuable from someone else. You won’t build strong relationships, if you’re quick to stereotype or give unwelcome advice. Stereotyping just makes you look disrespectful and uneducated in the art of communication.
I wasn’t hesitant about giving advice to a few people much older than me that I was networking closely with. I didn’t want it to come across the wrong way. But, then I realized they were networking with me because they realized I could help them and they could help me. I then provided my advice and quickly learned how much it was appreciated.
You can learn something new from people of all ages and all walks of life. If you agree, hit “like.” If you receive unwelcome advice or someone stereotypes you feel free to send them a link to my post. Just kidding, maybe…