Experts who don’t listen to other experts…..Are you one?

When experts don’t listen to other experts, it is frustrating.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on an outing where I was definitely in a supportive role for most of it. Although my position called for me to be in an official leadership role, I realized that I wasn’t, almost immediately.

After a few minutes of wondering how to handle the situation, I turned that realization to my advantage and learned much from someone popularly considered to be the expert on the topic we were discussing.

I’ve spent many years in unofficial leadership roles. By unofficial, I mean no title, no pay, and only loose affiliations local organizations. Despite all this, I have found, it is sometimes better to lead from a more relatable position.

At some point during the event, the recognized but unofficial expert encouraged me to share with the group my own expertise. It was a nice show of collegiality. He acknowledged my role in the event and allowed me to be an expert for part of it. I was grateful for his involvement and how we worked together in an impromptu and unplanned way.

But, there was another person there. This person considers themselves as an expert in many areas and uses their actions, as well as their knowledge to show it. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that this person did not show the other experts in our group the same respect as we showed him. He did not listen to me. And, at times, he was competing with the other expert for attention.

I found this frustrating and unacceptable.

A coworker asked us to think of what we, the members of our small staff, each think of as our own expertise. This was a couple of weeks ago. I have thought about it quite a bit. Invariably, what we, ourselves, might think we are experts on turns out to be something else entirely when it is others thinking of us.

I speak publicly quite a bit about Monarch butterflies. One might think that I am an expert on the subject of Monarch Conservation. To some, I might be. On some days, I might feel I am. When all the stars line up, I can be that expert. But, when it comes down to it, I am really an expert on something else entirely.

No. I am not going to tell you what it is. That’s not the point of the post. The point is about respecting others as you want to be respected. I seriously do not understand behavior that does not reflect this golden rule type philosophy. I know what happened was not intentional, but still when I pay attention to an expert, I want the same respect shown to me (or anyone else) when the shoe is on the other foot.

Everyone is an expert on something. At least that’s the way I see it,. But, when you don’t acknowledge this ability in others your expertise becomes rude foolishness.

So the next time you’re at an event when you are not the expected, invited, or recognized expert, make sure you’re the respectful, attentive listener we all hope to have in our audience. Who knows? You might learn something!

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