April 19: Want advice? Take some notes!

By · Saturday, April 19th, 2014

For the month of April, our blog will be devoted to polishing
your professional skills.
Everything you need to know about courtesy, manners and common sense.
And we do mean “need” to know.


It is a good feeling when someone asks for advice. If you’re the person seeking advice, know that you are not being a bother. People like to help other people. Still, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you are not wasting another person’s time and that you are getting the most from that person’s counsel.

  1. Take notes. This part is common sense. Think of it this way: How can you have a 30-minute conversation about a matter that is important to you and not think even one thing is worth noting? It sends a wrong message to the person talking with you. At the least, you should be jotting down key points that will help you make your decision. Those points would be helpful if you use the recommended age-old method of thinking through all your options: take one legal pad, draw a line down the middle and list “pros” on one side and “cons” on the other.
  2. Ask follow questions. Remember that you are having a conversation, so there should be two-way communication. You don’t want to ask your first question and then just listen. The other person is taking signals from you — including body language. Your follow questions will help guide that person in the kinds of examples that are shared, advice that is given and even anecdotes that are told.
  3. Be open-minded. By virtue of asking someone else’s opinion, you are opening yourself to receiving different points of view. So keep an open mind. When you react with negative sentiments, you are being dismissive. Even if you are thinking these thoughts, try not to express them. Instead, hold them close so you can consider them later, after you have had time to think about everything you’ve discussed. Here are some comments to avoid: “But that’s not what I want to do …” “I’m not interested in that … ” “I was always told that’s not a good company … ” or ” I don’t want to live there … “

Read it. Learn it. Live it.
Be that person.

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