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Seeking Advice – When to accept and implement and when to say thank you and ignore

Article contributed by Penny Izlakar with the WIL Alberta Chapter

Seeking feedback is one of the most uncomfortable activities one can undertake in their career. Not only are you vulnerable to asking for feedback, but you must also decide what to do with the feedback you receive. Below are my tips on when to accept advice, when to say thank you and move on and when you may want to gather additional data or insights before you decide.

Tip 1 – Feedback is coming from your direct leader
  • Do accept the advice: Consider taking the advice if it aligns with your career goals and you agree it’s in an area to work on. You might also accept it if you know that moving upward in a role or career will require you to grow in that space. Most importantly, you trust the source and know they have your best interests in mind.

  • Refrain from accepting the advice: If there are conflicting opinions from previous people, leaders and current peers and the advice does not align with your values. Consider not taking it if you don’t believe the feedback is a true reflection of you or if you feel they are deflecting the feedback they personally received. Another reason not to accept could be that you don’t trust the source and, finally, if you think the input does not resonate with your brand.

  • Investigate: Consider ways to gather additional insights from trusted peers or mentors who will confirm that your direct leader is sharing helpful feedback. Consider digging deeper to see if you’ve grown, changed, or moved up in your career to determine if the advice now makes sense given a reframe on circumstance.

Tip 2 – Feedback is coming from a trusted peer
  • Do accept the advice: Getting advice from peers might seem easy, but putting it into context might be more challenging and less straightforward. When you know what you’re asking for aligns with what you respect about them (i.e., their superpower), that’s a scenario I recommend taking! Before implementing, let the advice simmer for a day or two to ensure it aligns with your values and path (i,e., My True North).

  • Refrain from accepting the advice: If you’ve asked for advice and it does sit right with you, you might say thank you and move on. Unless you’ve asked the peer to be an accountability partner, you have no obligation to share whether you took their advice and implemented.. You might choose not to ask for advice from the peer in the future if it does not feel like their intentions are coming from a good, authentic place. I’ve personally struggled with whether to take a trusted peer’s advice at face value in the past.

  • Investigate: Consider a chat with your people leader if you’re concerned with implementing the advice and want a second opinion. Another option might be to test the advice with a coach or mentor to see if the feedback resonates with you.

Tip 3 – Feedback is coming from a Senior Mentor
  • Do accept the advice: When you are struggling with a challenge, and you ask an external mentor (or internal mentor not close to an issue), you can consider their feedback genuine. They only have your best interest at heart. However, a caveat is that you may need to tailor the advice to work within your company’s context or situation. Know the lens and context that come from you, so the advice they provide must be weighed against what you are experiencing, struggling with, or contemplating the action.

  • Refrain from accepting the advice: Consider questioning the advice if it doesn’t resonate with your True North (negotiables and non-negotiables). Additionally, when the direction no longer applies (i.e., you took too long to execute the feedback) because the situation has changed.

  • Investigate: When you need clarification on the path forward, does the mentor’s advice make sense in a bigger-picture context? Consider connecting with a trusted peer to gain some additional perspective.

Tip 3 – Feedback is coming from a Coach

Coaches help guide you down a path of self-discovery.. Accepting advice from a coach is one of the easier ones to take because it should already resonate with you – you’re the one coming up the recommended path forward.

  • Do accept the advice: Find the right coach for you, one whose style resonates with you and whom you trust, as this criterion will make it more likely for you to implement. Do try to implement the advice you give yourself quickly – you put in the hard work and now reap the rewards.

  • Refrain from accepting the advice: Don’t accept if the situation changes or your gut tells you to postpone and tweak your approach. Additionally, if your comfort with the coach makes you question the path forward.

  • Investigate: If your ability to implement the feedback is uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Check with a mentor to see if they’ve had similar experiences, and they can help you consider the advice from a different vantage point.

While I could continue with a long list of potential people, you can use the “do accept, refrain from accepting, or investigate; you can use the concepts to tweak for any scenario. So get a little uncomfortable and explore who you typically get advice from and when you accept or refrain from accepting advice and when you need to investigate a little more.

Leader. Efficiency Finder. Mentor. Leadership Advocate. Penny Izlakar



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