I’ve been lucky that I’ve had many mentors and coaches throughout my working life.
The good (and bad) thing about that is that I received so much advice and words-of-wisdom along the way.
Most of the time, the counsel is on point. Often, the suggested steps were challenging, but still actionable and exactly what I needed to do to address my specific situation.
Sometimes though, the different pieces of advice contradicted each other. Have you ever experienced that?
And there were times when the advice, however well meaning, just didn’t make sense for me to follow.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about asking for, and receiving, advice from different people, mostly through trial and error.
Not surprisingly, I also learned from being on the other side–the person giving the advice. The recipient’s reaction to my own advice taught me a great deal not only about how to give suggestions, but also how to react when benefitting from others’ guidance.
Three things I keep in mind now when I’m receiving advice:
1. Listen. Dont' defend.
The other person is taking his time to convey a message to me, whether I’ve solicited it or not. Rather than rejecting it outright, or defending my position, I try to simply listen and thank the other person for sharing his thoughts–oh my goodness, especially if I’ve asked for it! After all, no one is forcing me to follow, or even believe, the advice.
None of us knows everything. Listening opens our minds to the chance of a golden nugget that can be harvested.
2. Ask questions. Dig deeper.
During the conversation, I remind myself not to clam up. Or try and act as if I understood when I didn't.
Ask follow-up questions. Understand the person’s point of view so as to get a better appreciation of his suggestion.
3. Pause and imagine what it would be like if I followed the advice.
After the conversation is over, and I've heard everything the other person had to say, I pause. I try to imagine what it would be like if I actually followed the person’s suggestion. If I feel myself rejecting the idea, I ask myself why I’m doing so and turn it into an opportunity to understand myself better.
Sometimes, we reject an idea because we’re scared of it, not because it doesn’t make sense.
Above all else, I find that thinking about the advice as a gift that someone has taken the time to impart, puts me in a grateful frame of mind – no matter the nature of the suggestion.
About the Author: Lou Blaser is the Chief Ambition Prod at Second Breaks. She is a change and strategy advisor, who helps people get unstuck from their stalled Plan A careers.
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