This article is about using your adoption of a student role strategically to make people like you.
The student / teacher relationship is often viewed from the context of power. The teacher typically holds power over the student in a learning setting. A teacher can dictate the immediate future of a student for example; they can evaluate the student, and can perform disciplinary acts should the student function without adhering to specific rules.
Once we make it out of our final semester in school, many of us vouch to never go back and experience being a student again. The time spent in a classroom being lectured tends to be perceived as a hellish experience overall.
People feel powerless in their student role, and their inability to control how they’d prefer to spend their time entices them to stay away from being labeled as a student in any capacity down the line.
They’ll seek to preach rather than to listen. To be seen as leaders is what they’ll aspire to. They’ll go on an almost vengeful quest to gather a group of followers rather than to follow someone skilled themselves.
For the reasons mentioned above and more, people seem to enjoy taking on the responsibility of teaching others. In an effort to take advantage of this tendency, below are a couple of pointers to aid you in understanding why this tendency exists.
The Assignment of Responsibility / A Feeling of Usefulness
Assuming a student role can be anything from simply asking for advice, to asking someone to mentor you for a whole summer. What you do when you assume a student role, is encourage a semi voluntary adoption of responsibility in your “teacher’s” mind.
The responsibility they adopt would stem from the desire to provide you with information which would benefit you rather than stifle you. Your future success may depend on the lessons that they teach. The lessons you teach students of your own down the line may be rooted in the lessons you’ve been taught today.
This adoption of responsibility encourages the best version of the people you’re learning from to show itself to the world. People don’t normally package their knowledge into digestible lessons when there aren’t any willing students to listen. They walk through life withholding knowledge which they aren’t asked to share with anyone.
As you assign yourself the student role by asking questions, seeking advice, or looking for mentor-ship in specific facets of life, you give your teachers a sense of purpose.
A sense of purpose is an underestimated elicitor of positive feelings from others toward you. At the very most, your act of learning from someone else places them away from the metaphorical ground in knowledge’s hierarchy. If someone was willing to learn from them, it must mean they’re not the most unknowledgeable person out there.
You serve to prop people up when you ask them to teach you something. Their perceived self-value tends to rise. Their confidence grows as they notice others perceive them as educated beings. They’ll want to be around you more, as you’d serve to make them feel like a provider of a certain knowledge which is useful for others.
Prideful Longings for Showing Off Knowledge
On a note related to the feeling of usefulness that you provide those you seek to learn from, you’ll entice your teachers to attract others with their knowledge. Since you’d likely not always be alone in your discussions with the individuals you learn from, those looking on from afar will aid your goal of making your “teacher” like you.
When there are witnesses to the teachings of those you learn from, you grant your teachers the opportunity to show off.
Rather than needing to show their knowledge to the world on their own initiative, your act of seeking to learn from them would provide them an excuse to show off.
When there is an excuse for someone to show their knowledge and skills, the audience’s perception of those lessons and skills is likely to be positive. The audience around you would not consider your teacher to be needlessly showing off because you would have initiated the presentation of their knowledge and skills.
In essence, your act of seeking to learn from people allows them to advertise their knowledge and skills to the world. Others may come to them for help and guidance after seeing these people teach you a thing or two. You’d thereby start a self-repeating cycle of your teachers / mentors feeling useful as well as advertising their skills for others to inquire into.