Adult Behavior

Interacting with adults helps you know how to behave around grown-ups before you become one.

Alan Carey/The Image Works

Teens are around adults all the time. First, there are your parents. You see your teachers all week during the school year. Then you have the adults who run your extracurricular activities, like your soccer coach, the supervisor of the chess club, and your jazz dance teacher. And those of you who have jobs must deal with adults at work: bosses, co-workers, and customers.

Having these grown-ups in your life may be annoying. After all, they probably spend a lot of time telling you what do. But if you want to succeed in life, it’s best to figure out how to coexist with adults, because you’re going to be around them for the rest of your life. Even when you’re grown up, you’ll have to deal with other adults. So the sooner you figure out how to behave and be comfortable around them, the better off—and happier—you’ll be.

Here’s what you need to know about interacting with grown-ups:

Remember that adults have feelings. Grown-ups are human beings just like you. That means they have feelings and can tell when they are being disrespected or ignored. And an annoyed or angry adult won’t respond well to a teen’s needs.

Maintain eye contact. Being around adults, especially in a work environment, can be intimidating. But maintaining eye contact with the adult you’re talking to can help you get what you want out of a situation. It shows you’re paying attention, which is a sign of respect. Sheila Curran, director of career services at Brown University, says that keeping eye contact, without staring, is an important part of a job interview. “The way you come across in the first minutes of a job interview is critical,” she says. “Walk into the room with your head up. Make good eye contact during the interview, but don’t continually stare at the interviewer.”

Keep good posture. You don’t have to stand like a statue, but it’s important to show respect with your body language. “Slouching or crossing your legs at the ankle when you are sitting makes you look too casual,” says A. Tariq Shakoor, director of career services at Emory University. Also, avoid fidgeting­—nervous gestures can be distracting.

Hold your own in conversation. Most adults aren’t looking to have an in-depth conversation with a young person. They just want to exchange pleasantries. If an adult asks you a question, answer it to the best of your ability. You don’t have to give a long answer; just try to keep the conversation going.

Smile. There will be times when your encounters with adults are serious and no one—including you—will be in a laughing mood. But in most cases, your dealings with grown-ups will be casual. So relax and smile. It’ll make you and the adult you are conversing with more comfortable.


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