Advice – who needs it!

Well, to answer that, most of us from time to time. Few of us get by in life without any help at all and advice from a person you trust can be an amazing source of wisdom and personal development.

Sometimes, however, we tend to seek advice from those who will confirm us in our own thinking, ‘pat us on the back’ and say there, there’. That’s fine, we all need that from time to time and it can be life affirming, friendship deepening, and just plain nice.

Cold Comfort

What it won’t be though, is challenging, helping you to grow in wisdom, or give you a new look at an old problem. It will be comforting but sometimes something more than comfort is called for.

In this article I am going to give you a few tips about how to get advice that you really want and that will help your personal development!

Seven Tips

  1. First you need to decide who the best person to ask is. The most appropriate person may not necessarily be someone you like but should be someone you respect. They may have specialist knowledge of the area you’d like advice on, or they may have had a similar experience to you and you’d like to benefit from the wisdom gained.
  2. Let them know in advance that this is a bit different from an ordinary chat. Ask them if they have the time for a discussion and let them know on what topic. Don’t expect them to be instantly available- you may have to arrange a time when you can talk without interruption.
  3. Be specific about what you are looking for. Do you really want some advice or do you just want to off load? If it is genuine advice then say so. ‘I would really welcome your advice on this topic.’ If you want them to challenge your current thinking make sure that you tell them – give them permission to ask some awkward, stretching questions of you.
  4. If you can, try and prepare in advance what you want to say. Too much detail and they may nod off! Too little and they won’t be able to give you good advice. Set the context and then explain succinctly your dilemma or issue.
  5. Listen to what they say, really listen. Most people like being asked to give advice, providing their generosity in this area is not abused. But it is surprising how many people ask for advice and then don’t listen to what is said! Resist the urge to say ‘But I’ve tried that’ ‘no, that won’t work’ etc but hear them out. You don’t have to do what they suggest but you should give them the courtesy of properly listening. Ask them what they mean, why they think that. Make sure you understand what they are saying.
  6. Sometimes it can be really useful not to comment at all on the advice you are given. Simply listen to it, thank them for their time and trouble and say you’ll think it over. Let it mull around for a while. It may be something you have tried before but perhaps it will work in this different situation? Or something they have said will take you off on another path of thought which will lead you where you want to be.
  7. And finally, asking advice can be a useful way to raise your work profile. If you have been thinking about a new role, shadowing, promotion, taking responsibility for a project or getting a qualification, then ask someone senior in your organisation for their advice. It will bring you to their attention and they may help you in more ways than you imagined!

Posted on August 20th, 2009 by

4 Responses to “Advice – who needs it!”

  1. Hi Jane,

    This is great advice on giving advice! Thanks,very useful.

    I particularly like the distinction between wanting to offload and getting advice as there is a difference between the two and if you don’t make it clear to the listener beforehand the listener could be busy racking their brains for suggestions that are not really necessary. Thanks Jane


    • Jane says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Sharon. I have sometimes been caught out thinking my advice has been sought, when actually it was just a ‘getting off the chest’ session! I always check now!

  2. Ros Baynes says:

    It’s certainly true that a lot of advice is sought primarily as a way of looking for confirmation, and isn’t listened to if it is challenging or goes in an unexpected direction. It can be very frustrating to be asked for advice and then have every suggestion rejected as too difficult. But equally I can think of many times when that’s exactly what I have done to others!

    • Jane says:

      Yes, it’s true. Sometimes we just want comfort food, nothing too chewy! I always check now if they actually want me to make suggestions. Otherwise I just act as a friendly ear. Thanks for your comment, Ros. Jane

Leave a Reply

Jane's Book

Paperback or Electronic copy

Free Updates
Simply fill in your details below to get regular updates in your in box. Your details will not be shared – ever.

Connect with me
facebook twitter google+ linkedin RSS