Maximizing the power of wise counsel

 Wise counsel can be developed over years of experience. People want guidance and to tap into a reservoir of knowledge. Frequently you are asked for advice, so that others can gain from your expertise. Your perspective is valuable. Therefore, you have information which could help people make better decisions about their career or to increase their understanding in a particular arena. It is a wise person who can learn from their own encounters, but to learn from the wise counsel and the actions of others is more efficient.

Tell me if you can identify with the following scenario. You are approached by an individual eager to get your opinion on a certain matter. They ask a direct question. You are honored by the opportunity to share wise counsel. As you pour out your heart you realize the fan, the protégé is not taking notes. How will they ever remember your eloquent remarks and witty repartee?  You face the reality that your hard work and generosity may have a short retention half life. Brittany Olivares in her introduction to psychology on helpingpsychology.com cites research dating back to Hermann Ebbinghaus’s experiments. She suggests that a person actually begins to forget information within 20 minutes of the initial learning. They can lose as much as 50% in one hour and close two thirds of the information in 24 hours. 

Faced with the reality of diminished effectiveness and wasted time, it important to do something to maximize the power of your wise counsel.  It is crucial to act quickly to improve retention of your message. The right strategy will make it easier on all participants. You, as the mentor, will be more effective and the session will be more productive for the people seeking your advice. Before the impromptu questions;

  1. Compile a list of the frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) where people sought advice
  2. Write out your common responses
  3. Elaborate on these comments with examples as if you were writing an article
  4. Catalogue and saved these articles in your files

This strategy creates a record of your conversation. Later you may submit the articles for publication. This will help establish your name, as an expert in your field.

When someone asks a question, you can give them an abbreviated response. If they require more information, ask them to submit a memo to you and you will send them a more detailed response. This places accountability on the person. If they are truly interested, they will show the initiative to contact you. This technique receives rave reviews and will maximize the effectiveness and staying power of your comments. You do not want to lose the information to a faulty memory or their inability to capture your thoughts.  

Another way to make your meeting more memorable is to suggest the following:

  • Ask the person to take out pen and paper or the tablet or smart phone to capture  information
  • If these items are not available they must promise to write down the comments immediately after the discussion
  • They may write the key bits of information in their journal
  • You can agree on important take a way comments for future discussions
  • If the person worked for you or are a mentee, you might ask them to send you a summary of agreed upon actions

People, who ask you for wise counsel must be willing to do the work to comprehend, capture, codify and hold themselves accountable to fulfill any action required from your commentary.

  1. Comprehend what needs to be done

The power of question and follow up questions must be used to ensure they understand the information presented. If they are not sure, they must be persistent until they have received as much from the interchange as possible. You may ask them questions to validate their understanding.

  1. Capture the critical information

The person must take ownership in capturing the information. If they have the courage to ask questions, they must also have the resources to accurately retain the brilliant pearls of wisdom from your experience. If you are gracious enough to give your point of view they should be thoughtful enough to preserve the information until they get home. This requires more than looking at you attentively, smiling and nodding their head in agreement.

  1. Codify to develop a system

Some people develop systems to ensure they do not lose the information they collect. They also make sure that routines are established to follow through on any outstanding issues. Studious individuals have sent memos thanking the person for taking the time to talk to them. Others have set up a mechanism to periodically contact the person to provide feedback on how they used the information they received.

  1. Accountability must be established to ensure the required actions are executed. This is only appropriate if there are action steps that have been agreed upon in the conversation. Every conversation does not require accountability partners of actions, but when they are expected, they should be delivered.

We love to give feedback and share insight and perspectives. We can maximize the power of wise counsel by putting steps in place to sustain the messages delivered.

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser

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