Tag Archives: Advice No-One Asked For

The Shortest Route Between Two Dots

But not necessarily the fastest.

My path was well defined very early on. I was going to study, to get good grades, to major in Dentistry, and live a comfortable life doing an interesting job. Dot A. Straight line. Dot B.

Except it did not go quite like that. As I was approaching the middle of the straight line, I could see Dot B. And dots C and D and E and F and so on. But my speed was not what I had imagined it would be.

I had to wander a lot. I had to get off the straight line. To take a turn. This stretched the way longer. But the good thing about turns is that – if they aren’t too wide – they help you accelerate.

Compound interest

If you don’t like what someone says, or their opinions, or the positions they take, you can always protest. You can call them names, you can lay bare all the flaws in their reasoning. You can even try to express your displeasure to those around them, try to punish them by harming their life.

All are valid options. But will they prove useful? Even if you succeed in implementing one or more of the strategies outlined above, are you going to get that person to change their mind? Probably not. Bad ideas rarely die. When confronted with violence, they hide beneath the earth, and bide their time, growing fat from hatred and frustration, looking for an opportunity to resurface.

The alternative, of course, is one that demands time, patience and a lot of work. But it works. You may take the time and make the effort to set aside your revulsion for the person in question, and listen to them. Hear them expose their revolting, wrong, and painful ideas. And maybe hear some more besides. And then you can humbly add:

“Yes, I understand why you think so. And what if…”

And that “And what if …” Should constitute the smallest possible wrinkle in their ideas, a mere note of discord. And contain your emotional response once even this small objection is immediately denied. It only means that you haven’t listened enough.

People’s ideas can change, yes. But that change is like sea water changing the rocks it bathes.

The advantage of cultivating such patience, and of bearing with such labor? When that person starts to listen to what you say – once you are no longer a stranger – they will change for real, not just hide beneath the earth.

And then, there will be another person in the world ready to listen to others, and to ask “And what if..?” from someone else.

Painting: “Argument over a Card Game” by Jan Steen

Always Ask Why You Didn’t Get The Job

Thank you for letting me know about your decision. I am sure that the chosen person will be a valuable asset to your team and company.

May I ask for more detailed feedback on why I was passed over for the position? I ask not so that I can dispute it, but because I would like to plan on how to improve in order to have a better chance for future opportunities.

Thank you,

From here, the following may happen:

80% of employers will ignore your question. Don’t take it personally. They are busy. They owe you nothing. Move on. There will be other opportunities.

Of the remaining 20%:

15% will give you an answer. Analyze it. If you don’t agree, it doesn’t matter; keep the promise you made. Look back at the feedback after a month. Consider that it may be true. If it’s not true, then wonder about what prompted your potential employers to come to this conclusion about you. There is always something to improve, and now, you know where to start.

4% will be impressed, and will remember you when the next opportunity comes around.

1% will look at your CV again, and reconsider.

1% is not much; but all you need do is copy and paste.

Painting: “Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo” by Gentile Bellini