Unfortunately, I don’t remember who said that asking for advice is much better than asking for feedback, so I can’t give them credit. The fact remains though, that having this question on my mind, I’m never asking people to give me feedback anymore. Instead, I ask them what advice would they give me. And this has several benefits.

One, I think giving and receiving feedback is the wrong thing to do as it’s extremely judgemental. In essence, it’s a situation in which one person knows what needs to happen (so they have a square-shaped stencil) and compares how well another person (who has a circle-shaped form) managed to fit in this ‘what needs to happen’. This locks down so many opportunities for mutual learning and understanding that it’s almost physically painful to think about it.

And two, asking for feedback doesn’t invite the other person to have a look at the world from your perspective. Everything revolves around the perspective of the feedback-giver as presumably they know better. Which might well be the case, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that feedback giving is about comparing the job a person has done to a standard, not about helping this person improve.

What asking for advice does really well for me is exactly this change in perspective. It involves a lot more empathy than feedback-giving-and-receiving. It brings people closer to you. It invites them (and you) to share the world. It puts you in a position to listen to someone who (hopefully) cares about what you will become. And the best part is, you skip the part in which you have to give or receive ‘negative feedback’ simply because the ‘advice’ question is future-oriented. Whatever you say or hear will be based on the past of course, but everything you hear will be about the future, about the things you can do (even) better. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues started with me or them asking for advice and I can only encourage you to give it a go.

My best wishes for a great day ahead!

One thought on “The questions that change us: What would you advise me to do?

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