Going to my own mentorees and asking for their advice was like hearing a chorus of validation and anger or concern on my behalf. I felt appreciated but still had little perspective on what to do. The gang just assumed I was strong enough and smart enough to find my own way through with little but a cheering section.
Going to my mentors was a different surprise. The advice was so varied and so vague; I was not sure what was being said. One of my favourite questions to ask when mentoring is "What advice would you give me if the situation was reversed and you were me?" This time, I asked this of my mentors as well. That's where their emotions came into play "I'd tell him to stuff it!," said one.
This taught me a few things:
1 - I obviously don't ask for help a lot and it confuses people when I do.
2 - Having someone genuinely care and be angry on your behalf may not be productive but it feels good - creates a safe place from which planning can be done (and the cheerleader, having established a position of being onside, can then safely challenge plans)
3 - Telling me to not make "an emotional decision" drives me more crazy that the issue itself. Just because I'm showing emotion does Not mean my brains fell out my butt.
I'm now resolved to be a better ear for others in this regard:
- Listen to the problem
- Express outrage/incredulity/etc. at any unfairness
- Question for facts within the anecdote
- Challenge the solution to be fact-based while not requiring emotion to leave the room
- Ensure to close the discussion with a good note, even if there is no solution at that time (sometimes folks just need to talk)
Then start over with wine and probably not get past the second bullet....