Don’t fish for the advice you want to hear

GTST_FRONT_FFrom Chapter 4:  Am I Getting the Most Out of My Mentors, Advisors, and Advocates?

Don’t fish for the advice you want to hear

If you routinely opt not to follow someone’s advice, it only shows that you have not selected your advisors carefully. This is a quick way to tick people off and burn bridges. Select people you know will give you good advice, even if it’s not exactly what you “want” to hear. Then, when you ask for advice, be prepared to accept it or let the advisor know why you are not following the advice. Always remember that advisor/advisee is a privileged relationship. It is a two-way process—the advisors are saying yes to being available, answering your questions, taking your calls and giving you access to their networks. You must be willing to do the same for them.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when approaching your advisors:

  • If you already know the answer, don’t ask the question. Above all, don’t fish for the advice you want to hear.
  • Don’t ask for advice unless you are prepared to accept it.

I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was considering applying for an important city position, the first advisor I asked said “no.” Unhappy with that answer, I then asked another person and she said “yes.” I followed her advice. In hindsight, the first advice was correct, but I didn’t listen. I learned the hard way not to go “fishing” for the advice that tells you what you already know or want to hear.

Don’t annoy your advisors by asking them to take the time to listen to your issue and offer sincere suggestions, only to see their advice disregarded. And above all don’t let them find out through the grapevine that you chose another path. Don’t jeopardize these important relationships. Most of the time you will find that the advice has a profound impact on how you view the situation, the way you approach the decision or the expanded perspective you now have thanks to your conversation with your advisor.

Are you asking for advice or are you on a fishing expedition?


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