When it comes to our careers, we need to be able to take feedback - both positive and negative - to learn from it and improve our performance. We need to be ambitious so we can get that promotion or turn our passion projects into reality. And we need to know - and play up - our strengths.
To make the most of a mentor’s advice, you have to be in the right frame of mind and open to new ways of thinking.
Here’s our guide on how to get ahead when it comes to career and self-development. And here are some tips on learning how to handle advice and support even when you’re not entirely sure you want it.
“We all think we are great at taking advice when actually, we are probably better at dishing it out and solving everyone else’s problems. Hearing criticism is never easy, whether constructive or not, particularly when you are looking to make an important career move. You are feeling positive and ready to make a change and then someone comes along and dampens your spirit with their ‘advice,’ says Kirsty Miall, director at Attic Recruitment in London.
Miall says being in the right mindset is the most important element when it comes to hearing feedback, where you can listen to what’s actually being said - rather than being defensive and jumping to conclusions.
“Remember to take on board only the elements that will bring you closer to your goal. When something is important to us and we have fixed ideas on how we believe we come across, it’s not always easy to do” she advises.
Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable
Richard Pavesi, a partner at management consultancy The Berkeley Partnership thinks that for coaching to be most effective, you need to “reach the most sensitive aspects of a person’s personality, ambition and anxieties.” This requires some of that protective armour to come off: in order to exact positive change, you need to be honest with yourself and your adviser, and that means showing some of your vulnerabilities in terms of your big ambitions and life goals.
“Once a consultant becomes more confident in their own capacity for critical thinking, we find that they are more open to taking guidance or advice – they become less defensive and more able to consider other ways of working.
“It is essential that mentors or coaches offer high degrees of positive regard and empathy to enable a trusting relationship from which consultants can learn. Helping them to face down challenges and grow has always been the most rewarding aspect of my job,” Pavesi explains.
A Checklist To Help You Get Into The Right Mindset
Whether you’re thinking of making a career move or trying to show that you can work flexibly and still do an amazing job, follow these guidelines from Miall to help you take on criticism, encouragement and maximise support from your coaches and mentors.
Know what you want to achieve.
Be honest with yourself and listen to what is really being said.
Choose your counsellors wisely.
Trust and respect people who know more than you do on a subject.
Be open to learning if it will get you where you need to go.
Go with your gut.