February 24, 2011

Should I Be Intimidated By You?

I went to a conference the other day - full of strangers. I didn't know who the speakers were or what they looked like. And when I arrived, the conference speakers were sitting in seats along with all of the rest of us, chatting with the attendees. This was a problem.

I didn't know who I was supposed to be intimidated by.

You instantly treat people differently based on their title. We automatically give people the authority that we know others have given them. But that only works if we're aware of it.

I wasn't. And I was happily talking to a woman I thought was an attendee. It turned out that she was the big shot in the group. And if I had known, I definitely would have made a worse impression, through awkwardness. But I'm not sure what the next steps are from this real-life lesson in ignoring 'celebrity'. Any advice?