The Art of Counseling…and seeking Guidance

Leaders are often sought after for imparting guidance and support by their colleagues and juniors. Many of us also jump the gun and are ready to make suggestions without being asked

But then, how many of us have ever introspected whether we are good at offering guidance? For it doesn’t matter how expert you’re in your field and knowledge, your counseling would only have any real impact if it’s rendered in the correct way.

So, let’s examine a few good pointers that would ensure you’re a truly effective councilor.

  1. Be a good listener: This is especially important who love to jump in with both feet and seldom give others a chance to speak. Before you start, ascertain the nature of the advice sought, and whether you’re competent to offer it. If not, suggest a suitable contact.
  2. Understand the root cause by delving deeper: For your advice to be effective, ask questions that would give you better clarity on the matter.
  3. The importance of explaining the ‘whys’: A sound advice also points out the reasons behind your suggestions, for the receiver to fully comprehend it. This would ensure receptivity and actual follow-up on the advice you render.
  4. Empathize: Chances are, the person seeking your advice is in a quandary and nervous to have committed a mistake. This happens in a subordinate-superior relationship. So render your guidance in an amiable manner. This would strengthen your ties with your team and make them respect you more.

Now, let’s examine if the things were the other way round. Suppose you wish to seek someone’s guidance, and feel hesitant as you wrongly feel it would make you appear incompetent? Far from it! Seeking advice infact makes you appear smarter…for if you keep silent all the time it either means you are simply not into things or are shying away from the issues at work. On the other hand, you’re sopping the ego of the person whose advice you seek!

Try this approach:

  1. Be sure you really need it: You must never seek advice unless it’s absolutely essential. Merely seeking advice to please someone by making them feel important is a futile exercise as anyway you won’t actually be implementing it.
  2. Opt for the correct people: It’s better to have a few competent people rather than solely one, as your advisor. This would ensure you get to hear and mull over various viewpoints to ensure the best fit for your questions rather than following one person blindly all the time.
  3. Be expressive and complete: Give your advisor the full picture rather than throwing things at him randomly. This would ensure you get advice which actually gets to the bottom of the matter you seek the advice upon.
  4. Be receptive: If you are one of those egotistical people who always tend to do what you feel right despite the other person being far more competent than you, then you not only waste both your time but tend to destroy your professional relationship. So, be sure to follow the advice, leaving out a few exceptional cases. By the way, people at leadership positions happen to be the ones who mostly shun expert opinions…so, beware of this unhealthy work approach!

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