In this post, I’m going to discuss some personal experiences in when to and when not take people’s words seriously, specifically in situations where qualifications and credentials matter.
For example, if I were taking golf lessons from a teaching professional, I would listen intently, respect his opinions and criticisms, and obey his instructions, because he is the expert in the discipline. However, once the lesson is over, and the teaching pro and I are chatting about other things, such as music, then I have to immediately have a completely different mindset in judging what he has to say about music. Because he is not an expert in music, I have to take what he has to say with a grain of salt. That is not to say, of course, that I should (or I would) brush off his opinions on music, but it’s as if a music pro is talking to me about golf; I wouldn’t take it in the same way as I would from a golf pro.
Often times I’ve found this transition difficult, especially when interacting with people who speak as if they are very knowledgeable in a discipline but turns out he’s ‘all talk’. For me personally, this has occurred to me most in sports and music, with golf being the dominant examples.
Golf is a sport that, ultimately, like all sports, takes time and practice in order to improve. But due to the rocketing rise in popularity of the sport in the past twenty years or so, golf has become accessible to more people than anyone in the industry could have imagined. As such, the business aspect of golf has taken over, as high-tech equipment are glamorized, and clubs are sold at higher and higher prices to people who just want to ‘show off’, the result of which is a large percentage of the golfing population wielding expensive clubs but haven’t the slightest clue in what determines the quality of golf clubs.
As someone who is in the golf industry, talking to these people requires the uncanny task of taking in whatever ignorant statements they make with a smile and correcting them without making them feel ignorant. You can’t just tell people “expensive doesn’t mean good,” it’s an art form to have the ability to make them realize they are ignorant without making them feel that way.
The equipment aspect of golf is only half the story. The even more unbearable part, and this speaks more directly to my topic of when to take people seriously, is the people who likes to teach others while not being good at golf themselves. This is a general sentiment that applies to anything that one can teach another, but golf epitomizes it there are beginner golfers everywhere and the not-so-beginners are teaching the beginners as if they are themselves professionals. Yes, most of the times, the idea of teaching comes out of good will, but the standards of humility that golfers possess are much below those of most other disciplines, and as a result, many golfers blow it out their asses in talking as if they are experts in the game. Everywhere I go, half-decent golfers will teach beginners as if they know everything about golf; it’s sad, because as soon as they take a swing themselves, the folks who actually are knowledgeable in golf, the pros, will know right away if this player is a pretender or the real deal.
Similar things can be said when I hang out with my music enthusiast friends. I know, for a fact, that they are professional level musicians, so I respect their opinions and criticisms when I share with them my work. So it’s somewhat a bit strange when we switch topics and we talk about things where I’m more knowledgeable than they are.
Anyways, this was more of a rant than my previous post. I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, but perhaps I will come back to this topic later and elaborate!