Along with learning about the public relations landscape, Humber helped me learn a lot about myself and the person I am in a greater context. As someone who spends a lot of time reading self-help books and seeking out personal growth, I didn’t expect college to have such a profound impact on me. I felt going back to school was a necessary part of my journey and I am thankful to have had the experience. The little listicle below encompasses the bigger overarching lessons that I felt clicked for me. Maybe you’ve already come to understand these lessons on your path already, and if so, how beautiful the differences in our journeys are.
When you’re done talking. Stop talking.
I’m sure everyone has been in this position at some point: you’ve finished talking and the person you’re talking to isn’t saying anything so you feel obligated to keep speaking, and then you eventually end up rambling on or saying something stupid and random, and making yourself look dumb. This doesn’t have to be the alternative to your fear of coming off rude or cold. I think it’s rude of someone who is engaged with you in conversation, to watch you struggle to find words where there aren’t any. In the same way that “no” is a complete sentence, what you have said is sufficient. Even if it was one word. People need to accept what you said and you need to be okay with that awkward silence that follows when you’ve said what you needed to say, and everyone is still waiting for more.
In PR, especially being a spokesperson, you need to not only know when enough is enough, but also how to bridge to key messages. Understanding and employing this in every part of my life has really given me back my power because I don’t feel like I’m being drained as I once was.
Play to your strengths.
I used to be weird about playing to my strengths because they were also the thing that got me in trouble the most in school. I’ve always been a natural leader and I would get in trouble for being too bossy. So, going into group projects at school was weird because I wanted to contribute and do what I do best, without everyone hating me.
It’s different in adulthood, people respect the person who takes the reins because they ultimately won’t have to do it themselves. My best advice to you in all situations is to get familiar with what you’re good at, cultivate it and don’t be afraid to advocate for those skills when it comes down to deciding who’s doing what.
People want to help.
We do it by nature: you know someone who would be perfect for something else, whether it be a job or a person or activity, whatever, and you connect the two. It feels good to be useful to others around us in the same way it feels good to be relevant and remembered by those same people. Shout out to the Karma Gods! But yes, reach out to people and ask them the things you want to know. Lots of people learn to share their vat of knowledge with those around them who share a common goal of a better future. Good people know good people, don’t be afraid to ask someone to introduce you to someone else you want to connect with. Don’t feel bad, or ashamed or guilty for asking. That’s what we’re here for, and the worst response you can get is no.
Another piece of advice I received that goes hand-in-hand with this is, if you have something to bring to the table, you will always be more welcome. It is important to remember that all relationships are reciprocal to some degree, if you want to brush shoulders with useful people, you must also be a useful person.
Clear, concise and correct.
There’s nothing I love more than a good run-on sentence, truly. But if I’m being honest, everything can be better edited. And shorter and tighter. I think everyone can appreciate direct, straightforward communication that is not concerned with meeting a word count.
When I communicate, I am now more mindful of what I am going to say beforehand because the better you say it (especially in PR), the less time you spend answering questions. I love it when I can take something and get the message across in a clearer and more concise way. I’ve also come to enjoy editing and become elated at really well-written content. Be warned: this may happen to you as well.
CRAFT A BETTER STORY.
I have been telling the same story about myself since I had a story to tell. It never once dawned on me that I had the power to change the narrative or pick and choose which pieces stayed and which became irrelevant. I learned that my story is my truth, and I get to pick the parts that get mentioned and brought forward with me. I am as interesting as I want to be and as open of a book as I choose to be. Not everyone needs to know the details, and not everyone keeps up with what I am doing––therefore, I am always in the midst of crafting.
I truly feel like the world is my oyster and I’m so excited to start my internship in a few short weeks. I hope these takeaways are beneficial and useful in your life in some capacity.