Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the smartest person in the room. You might be the most knowledgeable about your specialist subject, but being a good boolean whisperer does not automatically make you an expert on public transportation, psychology, poverty, history, finance, or any other industry.
I’ve had the privilege of being disabused of that notion very early on in my career, surrounded by statisticians, linguists, psychologists, designers and vets. I do what I do, and let my curiosity take care of the rest.
But there’s a lot of arrogant arseholes in this industry who think they know best. Those who will talk instead of listening, who belittle, interrupt and condescend. They know their domain very well and are quick to criticise others who don’t understand.
But we all have our own models of how the world works, our own coordinates on the axes that describe the world as controlled by us vs controlled by others, whether money or relationships are more important, whether people matter more than animals, whether humanities can survive without science or science without humanities, visual thinkers or verbal thinkers or lingual thinker or kinetic thinkers. We don’t perceive or act in this world in a way quite like anyone else. We all bring unique experiences and perspectives to the table, and we all know something that others can learn from.
So sit and listen in silence. Take in what you can, and when you’re ready, ask questions. Listen to understand, not to respond, not merely to be polite, but because you are interested and you want to learn.
If we could see how others see us? They’re talking. All you need to do is listen.