Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Respecting Authority while Standing up for Your Beliefs

From a very young age I was taught by my parents to respect authority figures. I have always had awe and admiration for my bosses and professors. However with this awe and admiration, I tend to put certain people on a pedestal, which leads me to think of them as somewhat super human.

This gets to be a problem if I don't agree with the way an authority figure is handling a problem or situation. Because I have them on such a high pedestal, I have trouble voicing or explaining my side of things. I just turn into a person I don't want to be...and get all nervous while interacting with them. Did I also mention that my passion for my work tends to get in the way too? Then I get frustrated after the fact because I am totally a different person around certain authority figures.

One of my professors recently told my class that as Doctoral students we are now his equal and we can question anyone's research. This was of course hard for me to hear, especially since this particular professor is so knowledgeable and I am in total awe about how much he knows about so many different academic disciplines.

My professor's statement is making me really rethink about the way in which I respect authority figures. I am learning how to stand up for my beliefs while still respecting authority. It isn't easy...I'm trying first with my professor and then we'll see how it goes...

Has this happened to you? How do you respect authority while still standing up for what you believe in?


Maria Gajewski said...

This is a delicate balance, Heather and I'm not very good at it personally. However, I have seen people who ARE good at it in action. What they have in common is a fantastic grasp of the facts and data involved in a situation.

No one really cares about your feelings, especially in the academy, they care about arriving at the best conclusion the data and facts lead them to.

Good luck on your academic journey.

Kenrg said...

I suppose I have the opposite problem, of questioning authority until the respect is earned (and, usually, even after).

The larger point is that your thoughts and opinions and questions were just as valid before you entered the doctoral program, they just didn't have the assumption of authority they do now.

Enjoy your new powers, and use them for good, not evil ;^)

EDA Consulting said...

This is something I struggle with too. It's actually more about finding the balance with being quiet. :) I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and understand the importance of marketing myself, my business, and my ideas. I think some times this can get the best of me. I have to be careful not to self-promote too much.

On the other hand, I do have a hard time seeing myself in a position of "expertise" of any kind and yet I am a consultant with the knowledge I need to help clients.

There are mistakes that we make, but we can learn from them...so take the leap and speak up. Be prepared to feel silly and own up to mistakes at times.