Frustration Friday: May We Be Treated Like We’re Stupider

We're geeks.  We're used to being treated as odd or weird, as antisocial or as "differently social", as unfathomable and hard to understand.  This is of course incredibly annoying (at least when we don't tune it out), but it conceals a far bigger annoyance.  We geeks are in danger of being labeled in another way, a way that will affect our jobs and careers and opportunities.

We're in danger of being considered too smart to give advice too.

Think about all the times someone didn't give you an incredibly important piece of advice or information as they figured you, of all people, should know it.  Think about the times you didn't tell someone something incredibly obvious because you figured the already know it.  For that matter, look at all the geeky, creative, technical, imaginative people out there who are suddenly finding their job search skills aren't up to snuff in these tough times – and ask how many people just assumed "they were smart enough to do this.

We don't notice being treated as being too smart because it's a simple lack of communication on the part of others who should be advising us, because we're used to dealing with more blatant negative stereotypes, and simply because we don't see this.  We ourselves, we geeks and profans, do it to our fellows because we know they're smart since they're "one of us" – and we assume they know all the secrets of careers, job searches, and so on.

Why does this happen?  Because too often people assume smart, creative, imaginative, and technical people, being the people they are, are good at more than they are.  It's too easy to figure something is "obvious" to a smart or creative person, but we don't really think why.  It's too easy to assume that we geeks know a lot more than we do.

We need to be aware of this.  We need to be aware because we are missing advice because people are assuming we're smarter than we are.  We need to be aware of this so we don't avoid sharing important career advice and information with our fellow geeks.  We need to make an effort to fight the fact that at times we actually give people too much credit – or get too much credit.

So listen to others.  Ask advice.  Show that you're open to learning more from them.  It helps them realize they can advise you, and helps you show (like it or not) that there are gaps in your knowledge.

Also don't be afraid to share advice with people in need.  It's better to have to compose a conversation to tell someone things they need to hear on their job search than to hope they work it out.  Find the proper way to assess your fellow geek's career knowledge so you can help them – and don't automatically assume everything is fine.

We have to stop people thinking we're too smart and stop thinking others are too smart.

It's the smart thing to do.

Steven Savage